A campaign to save three community hospitals in Donegal has been given a major boost.
The future of the hospitals in Lifford, Ramelton and Stranorlar, have been under threat in recent months.
However, an estimate of costs on the future of the hospitals is now being completed by a Galway firm.
The findings of the costing report will be released soon and the local lobby group formed to save the hospitals, Save Our Services, will be the first to see the report.
Minister McHugh in a meeting with a delegation of the SOS executive (John O Connor, John Quinn and Whitby McClay) in Letterkenny on Friday last outlined the current stance of the proposals.
He said there are some hurdles still to overcome but he felt that these can be addressed to get what is required for the three hospitals.
The HSE have confirmed that they are exploring different options on the actual costing and they will be factoring in new data and information that will strengthen the case for the retention of the hospitals.
Interim chairperson Tom Murray said “the information we received is that this is progressing well. HIQA have completed their review of the three hospitals in the last 10 days and the initial finding suggest that all is going very well.
“As Ramelton and Stranorlar continue to perform strongly and indeed Lifford has been commended on the level of care they are providing, we believe that we are in a strong position at present.”
In a reply to Fianna Fail Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher question in early March, the HSE reiterated that they were completing their own internal review by the estates department.
This information will feed into the overall report of assessment.
In a mid February meeting the SOS executive met with Sinn Fein Oireachtas members along with part spokesperson on Health Louise O’Reilly who reaffirmed the party’s commitment to seeing retention and upgrade of services in the 3 Hospitals.
The SOS executive believe that initial funding required is in the region of €4 to €6million.
This is a suggested figure at present to allow for variation in costed solutions and amendments therein, but we are confident that the proposal being put together to the Department will be successful. There are hurdles to overcome but we are liaising with the relevant personnel in the Department and HSE and the Local GP’s to ensure that we strengthen the case and overcome pending issues.
We have scheduled a meeting with the CEO of the HSE John Hayes and having already met with the HSE locally we are assured that this is the appropriate and best way to secure the hospitals future.
“What we have always maintained is that we are fighting to maintain and secure the services well into the future and not just for the next number of years”
We are confident that by July when all reports are considered and proposals are submitted that we will have the good news that the 3 hospitals deserve. We expect that an official announcement will come around September as this is when the HSE and Department have indicated their capital budgets will be finalised.
Mr Murray said “The HSE, HIQA, the Department of Health, Ministers and deputies are all on the same page and confirmed their continued work to save the services, so we remain confident to that end. The SOS executive appreciate the Dail question by Fianna Fail Pat the Cope Gallagher Leas Ceann Comhairle, the recent meeting Sinn Fein Oireachtas members and Deputy Lousie O’Reilly commitment to the campaign and in particular Fine Gael Minister Joe McHugh’s and colleagues for their continued efforts on our behalf.”
We are aware that Minister Joe McHugh spoke for over two hours with An Taoiseach on Saturday regarding the prioritising of the three Community Hospitals, amongst other matters, and we welcome this.
“We are today in a new space and a step closer to securing the necessary funds. There is still a lot of work to be completed and many meetings will be held, but the local people in East and North Donegal can rest assured that we are continuing the work behind the scenes which is paying dividends for the future care of our communities.
“If we had a more exact timeframe this would help, but we remain buoyant that everything we are doing is having a significant effect and all the sounding we are hearing back are very positive. The executive will be meeting again very soon upon which a prospective meeting with Minister for Health will be discussed and continued negotiation with high ranking officials will continue.”