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Health Minister Criticises Large Hospitals for Overcrowding, Calls for Urgent Reforms..

Dublin: Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, has expressed dissatisfaction with the inadequacies in measures taken by major hospitals to control overcrowding, highlighting the need for dynamic capacity adjustments. Minister Donnelly emphasised the challenges faced by large hospitals in making effective decisions to manage patient overcrowding. He argued for essential reforms, including increased weekend discharges, to address these limitations.

During his visit to the South Dublin Surgical Hub at Mount Carmel, Minister Donnelly stated that management measures in consistently overcrowded large hospitals have proven ineffective. He stressed the urgency of capacity expansion and hospital reforms to enhance operational efficiency, calling for the appointment of more beds and health service professionals. The allocation of 1,000 additional beds is underway, with more set to be available this year. The Rapid Build programme aims to secure an additional 1,500 beds. However, Minister Donnelly emphasised the importance of necessary reforms, such as implementing weekend discharges and providing seven-day-a-week services to optimise bed utilisation.

Six surgical hubs, dedicated to minor surgeries, are under construction across the country, with others located in North Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Galway. These hubs will focus solely on surgeries without inpatient systems, aiming to enhance the functioning of outpatient and inpatient departments in hospitals.

Minister Donnelly disclosed ongoing discussions with the Health Service Executive (HSE) about reopening a hub in the North West. Additionally, he unveiled plans for a waiting-list action plan by the Health Department this year, incorporating increased beds in hospitals and community settings. While acknowledging progress in patient management, Minister Donnelly noted regional disparities, citing a reduction in the waiting period for appointments from 10 months to seven and a half months. The minister outlined a goal to further decrease this period to 10-12 weeks.

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