Health PEI has issued a request-for-proposals looking for a private operator to provide 55 more long-term care beds in the province.

The RFP says 10 of the beds will be based in Summerside and the rest in Charlottetown. Half the beds are to be ready by this summer with the rest available in 2014.

"With the addition of this number of beds I think it'll  go a long way to really serve to support not only seniors that are in need of long-term care beds, but obviously it'll provide a significant degree of support for our acute care hospitals," said Cecil Villard, executive director of long-term and home-based care for the province.

Many seniors waiting for a long-term care placement are in hospital beds for lack of anywhere else to go. Villard says once these new beds are operating, they should cut the waiting list for long-term care in half.

Capital costs for the beds would be assumed by the developer, with the province providing a subsidy for people who qualify.