Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher has slammed the Government for “misleading the general public” on matters relating to the long-term future of the Community Hospitals in Donegal.
The Leas Cheann Comhairle says that “it has been shocking how this matter has been handled” by Minister of Health since 2016 when their policy decision to downgrade the capacity of three Donegal hospitals – St Joseph’s Stranorlar, Ramelton and Lifford Community Hospital.
He adds that he felt shocked when Minister of State Jim Daly gave “the impression” that his question in July – when he asked for the retention of beds at all three community hospitals – was invalid and inaccurate.
Speaking today, Pat the Cope says: “What is to be absolutely clear now is the Government’s intention to remove the long stay accommodation (residency beds) from the Community hospitals in Lifford, Ramelton and St Joseph’s Stranorlar.
“This is an increditable decision and a retrograde step in the provision of health care in our county.”
Following this, Gallagher says that the Government’s reputation and credibility is “in tatters and is completely shot”, “no one can have any further confidence in the process which they are engaged in.”
The only two things that can restore Government confidence at this point, he says, would be the reversal of the Government policy of January 2016 and the fixture of a capital plan for the long term future of all three hospitals, which would include retoring staffing numbers in all three facilities.
“What we have witnessed from the Government over the past two years almost has been a complete farce.
“I am demanding the Government come clean and admit there has been an attempt to mislead the general public and immediately initiate a policy change and to secure the future of the three hospitals in Donegal,” said Pat the Cope.
“It is clear following a series of Dáil questions placed by me to the Minister for Health over the past 6 months, that it remains the clear stated intent of the Government to remove long stay accommodation residency beds from these three hospitals, in line with the decision made by the previous Government in January 2016.
“This was reaffirmed to me on the 26th of July 2017, again on the 15th of November and again today 22nd of November 2017.
“It is shocking the extent to which some Government representatives have gone to in order to cover up or massage the truth on this matter since the original announcement was made in January 2016.”
In a reply to Deputy Gallagher, Health Minister Simon Harris says: ““The programme which was announced on 26 January 2016 included the development of a new 130 bed centre, centrally located in Letterkenny to ensure that bed capacity in the region, which includes Ramelton, Lifford and Stranorlar is secured on a sustainable basis.”
Pat the Cope says that it has become evident that the Government have taken the decision to replace the three Community Hospital’s residency beds capacity with one centralised unit in Letterkenny.
Just one week ago on the 15th of November, Minister Harris told Deputy Gallagher that: “This investment programme will see the provision of two new centres in Donegal, namely in Ballyshannon and also a 130 bed centre to be located in Letterkenny”.
Deputy Gallagher says that is is “clear” that the Government are refusing to reverse their current stated policy, which is to “downgrade” the three community hospitals in question.Tags: