Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Working for Donegal

Ministers must keep their promise to reopen all 20 beds at Letterkenny Hospital’s Short Stay Ward

Posted on: Thursday, October 3, 2019

“Ministers must keep their promise to reopen all 20 beds at Letterkenny Hospital’s Short Stay Ward”- Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Seanad debate secured on Donegal beds crisis

Donegal Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has again challenged the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and local Minister Joe McHugh to “keep their promise and their word” to reopen all 20 beds at Letterkenny Hospital’s Short Stay Ward.

He was speaking after securing a debate on the issue in the Seanad.

Ahead of this year’s budget, Senator Mac Lochlainn has run a billboard campaign in the areas of the county around the hospital over recent weeks to remind the Minister for Health of his commitment and calling on him to “Keep Your Word” and reopen all 20 beds.

Senator Mac Lochlainn said:

“In the days that followed last years budget, both the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and local Minister Joe McHugh assured the people of Donegal that all the beds in the Short Stay Ward would reopen. One year on and this promise has not been honoured. Both Ministers must keep their promise and their word.

What has happened since is that the government has provided the funding to reopen just 5 beds out of 20. The Saolta University Healthcare Group, working in cooperation with the management of Letterkenny Hospital and supported by public representatives in Donegal found the funding from their own resources to take that number to 10 beds being reopened. But the Government’s recruitment embargo for the health service has scuppered the chances of getting all 20 beds reopened”.

He continued:

“The serious impact of the failure to reopen these beds can be seen every day at the hospital. In recent days, we have seen 36 and then 34 people waiting for a bed. The crisis is worsening due to the broken promises.

But its not just the scandal of so many of our people waiting long hours in the Emergency Department at Letterkenny Hospital and spending long hours on trolleys rather than the right bed in the right ward. It’s the knock-on effect of cancelled operations and growing hospital waiting lists for thousands of people across the county, many of them living in severe pain.

In response to my debate secured today, the Minister of State for Health, Catherine Byrne speaking on behalf of Minister Harris, delivered a contradictory response. She confirmed that under the HSE’s National Service Plan 2019, they intend to reopen another 15 beds at Letterkenny Hospital in the first quarter of 2020 but then in the next sentence, she stated that the reopening of the remaining beds in the Short Stay Ward is “under consideration”. The mixed messages need to stop. The Ministers must keep their promise and their word and waive the recruitment embargo and resource the management of Letterkenny Hospital to finally reopen all the beds”.

ENDS “

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