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Bed capacity review finds 2,500 more hospital beds needed if Slaintecare is brought in

New hospitals and up to 9,000 beds are needed to reduce overcrowding and waiting lists, according to the Government's bed capacity review.

A series of recommendations have been published in the Government's bed capacity review to help resolve pressure on our health system.

The review says that between 7,000 and 9,000 more beds will be needed in the next 10 years if the current system does not change.

However, if reform proposals by Slaintecare are implemented, it says the number of additional beds required could be around 2,500.

The reforms would include heavily investing in healthcare services in the community.

The review also says overcrowding and waiting lists could be reduced if a number of hospitals are established to deal exclusively with elective and non-urgent cases.

It comes as the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) claims comments made by Dr James Reilly, the former Minister for Health, calling for greater investment in the primary care sector are "political grandstanding".

The doctor's union said Dr Reilly must be held accountable for "his huge failures in office", which they say have directly contributed to the crisis.

On RTÉ Radio's Drivetime yesterday, Dr Reilly called for a “seismic shift to primary care” in his contribution to the debate about the trolley crisis.

The NAGP said he "singularly failed to deliver any such reform" when he held the minsterial post.

Dr Andy Jordan, Chairman of the National Association of GPs, said: "During Dr Reilly's time, GPs were forced to endure savage cuts, which continue to affect the delivery of care to patients.

"Primary care has been set back by at least a decade.

"Funding for primary care and general practice was cut by 38%, putting an already under-resourced sector under further strain. The NAGP is still dealing with the fallout of Dr Reilly’s actions, so his latest remarks are hard to take."

Dr Jordan said many young GPs had left Ireland, seeing no future here and there is a recruitment crisis ahead.

He said that the increase in the number of people with medical cards, or GP visit cards and free GP care for those under sixes and the over 70s, has been introduced with no corresponding funding.

He said agreement on a new GP contract with the Government is long overdue.

Dr Jordan said: "A lot of fine words are being spoken about implementing the SláinteCare Report and a shift to primary care.

"The NAGP has yet to see the required money and reform commitment from Government to back that up.

"So, the last thing the health service currently needs is a lecture and platitudes from a failed Health Minister."