Inpatient bed capacity requirements in Ireland in 2023: Evidence on the public acute hospital system

This QEC Research Note was subject to refereeing prior to publication. The authors are solely responsible for the content and the views expressed.

March 29, 2023
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In this Note, we provide estimates of public acute hospital inpatient bed requirements in Ireland in 2023, based on earlier ESRI research published by Keegan et al. (2018), the Department of Health’s Health Service Capacity Review (2018) and the National Development Plan (2018-2027). Each of these analyses projected hospital bed capacity requirements in Ireland based on a variety of projection scenarios. The Note finds that while absolute, and per capita, public acute hospital inpatient bed capacity has increased in recent years, large bed capacity deficits remain. Focusing on scenarios that assume an 85 per cent occupancy rate, we estimate that in 2023 there may be a bed capacity deficit of approximately 1,000 inpatient beds in public acute hospitals. This bed capacity deficit is likely a key contributor to recent overcrowding issues experienced in public acute hospitals. In addition to the deficit that currently exists in the system, over 300 additional inpatient beds are required per annum to keep up with demand pressures arising from an increasing and ageing population.