NOT one extra in-patient bed will be created when the €129m redevelopment of the Mater Hospital is completed.

While the massive expansion will include a new state-of-the-art accident and emergency department and 12 new operating theatres, there is no provision for improving the beds crisis in the Mater, which is the country's busiest hospital. However, according to a hospital spokesman there are enough beds to deal with the demand and the problem is caused by the number of delayed discharges within the hospital.

At any one time, between 50 and 90 of the 605 beds within the hospital are taken up with patients who have finished their treatment but for one reason or another cannot be discharged.

The figure has a devastating effect on those who are in need of beds and acute care. It is also one of the main contributing factors in the much-publicised overcrowding of the A&E department.

"There are a multiplicity of reasons why the beds cannot be freed up," said the spokesman for the Mater. "Some relate to the patient's circumstances at home, whether or not they have the facilities to cater for their needs, or whether there are step-down beds available.

"They may no longer need the acute care that the hospital's staff can provide but there is nowhere for them to go. Unfortunately, it is a symptom of how the system bottlenecks."

The main building works of the massive redevelopment get under way at the end of the summer.

According to a spokesperson for the Mater Campus Hospital Development (MCHD), the redevelopment will go a long way towards addressing the need for modern buildings and equipment for existing services. It will also provide significant additional capacity to service growing patient needs.

"One of the key benefits of the development will include the creation of sufficient capacity to meet demand, meaning reduced waiting times for theatre, outpatients and A&E services," the spokesman stated. "There will also be an increase in single rooms and smaller wards, helping to prevent the spread of infection."

The hospital will have more outpatient capacity than the old Mater Hospital. The redevelopment will also provide 120 replacement beds, a 444-space underground car park and new outpatient and radiology departments.