Senator Ó Domhnaill has said the combination of closing community hospitals and nursing home beds and scrapping the National Treatment Purchase Fund, while failing dismally to prepare for health service retirements, is having a serious impact on patient care in the North West.
The Donegal Senator commented, “Yesterday the HSE was forced to issue a public warning telling people not to go to the Emergency Department at Letterkenny General Hospital. This is because of the extreme pressure the Department was under – waiting lists were exceptionally high and the staff were under tremendous pressure.
“There is no doubt that this level of pressure puts patients at serious risk. A similar situation is happening at other major hospitals across the country.
“A number of planned operations and procedures had to be cancelled at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick over the past two days due to a major increase in pressure on the Emergency Department and a lack of beds for patients in need.
“Services at Sligo General Hospital are also severe strain at this time, as smaller hospitals and nursing homes in the region are downgraded or closed altogether.
“We have already seen that since the Government scrapped the National Treatment Purchase Fund last year, hospital waiting lists soared by 72 per cent in Letterkenny and 54 percent in Sligo.
“Not only has the Government scrapped the NTPF which was set up to tackle hospital waiting lists, they have embarked on a programme to shut down 898 community hospital and nursing home beds this year. Excellent facilities like Lifford Hospital are falling victim to this. All of this is pushing patients on to Letterkenny and Sligo Hospitals, which are also being forced to slash their budgets.”
He added: “Fianna Fáil predicted that all of this will put Letterkenny and Sligo Hospitals under more pressure than ever before and lead to patients in the North West facing record waiting times for the care they need. Unfortunately, the situation in Letterkenny this week is evidence of a deepening crisis in our local health services and I am urging the Government to act.”