Thursday, 9 July 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
359. Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospital beds in each hospital from 2000 to 2008 and to date 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29995/09]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): My Department in conjunction with the HSE will endeavour to compile the data sought by the Deputy in relation to acute public hospital beds and I will be in communication with him in due course.
360. Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress in regard to the commitment given in the Programme for Government to increase the number of dedicated public only hospital beds by 1,500; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29996/09]
380. Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made on the Programme for Government commitment to carry out an independent review of the co-location policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30017/09]
The Government in 2001 made a commitment, in the context of the Health Strategy Quality and Fairness, to increase public acute hospital bed numbers by 3,000 over ten years. This commitment included both acute in-patient beds and day places. The most recent data available indicates that average available number of acute hospital beds (including day places) increased by 1,380 between 2001 and 2006. Since then, investment under NDP has continued to allow for the provision of further new acute beds in the acute hospital system. In some instances these have replaced existing facilities which were no longer appropriate for modern purposes.
In 2007 the HSE commissioned PA Consulting to undertake an independent review of acute bed capacity requirements until the year 2020. The consultants’ report reaffirmed the need to develop an integrated health system, with a strong emphasis on the provision of hospital care on a day basis and as much as possible of people’s care needs being met at primary and community care level. The review forms a basis for discussion with key stakeholders on how best to plan for the provision of public health care to 2020.
In addition, a number of measures are being taken in the context of the commitment in the Programme for Government to reform the use of beds in hospitals. The new hospital consultants’ contract is being implemented and additional hospital consultants are being appointed. Furthermore, the HSE’s National Service Plan contains performance targets for the current year in relation to reduction of average length of stay and increasing the proportion of surgery undertaken on a day basis. Improved efficiency under these headings enables a greater patient throughput to be achieved for a given complement of beds. The aim of the co-location initiative is to make approximately 1,000 additional beds available for public patients in Acute Hospitals. The intention is to transfer private activity to the co-located sites, thereby freeing up capacity for public patients. Significant progress has been made in advancing individual co-location projects and the necessary arrangements will be made to commission an independent review of the co-location policy in due course.
361. Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of co-located private hospitals to the Exchequer with a breakdown of the cost for each of these hospitals; the amount of tax relief involved with these hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29997/09]
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): It is an essential requirement that each co-location project demonstrates clear value for money to the taxpayer. However it is the responsibility of the successful bidders to arrange the financing of the individual co-location projects. The Finance Act 2009 provides that the schemes of capital allowances for private hospitals and certain other health facilities will be terminated, subject to transitional arrangements for projects already in development. Provided that a co-located private hospital project conforms to the requirements of these transitional arrangements, and otherwise satisfies the general requirements of the scheme of capital allowances, the tax relief will apply. The value of the tax relief in each case will depend on the level of qualifying capital expenditure. I do not accept that, relative to its value, a high proportion of tax would be forgone by the Exchequer in respect of co-location projects as additional revenues would accrue to the Exchequer from the extra activity generated by the construction of the hospitals, the employment arising and the related services provided on which taxes will be paid.
As regards the costs incurred by the HSE on its legal and other expenses in respect of the co-location initiative, there is a requirement on each of the preferred bidders to pay a non-refundable deposit to the HSE on the signing of the project agreement. The intention of this requirement is to allow the HSE to recoup the expenses that it has incurred in this context.
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