Donegal action For Cancer Care have long been at the centre of the campaign to have better hospital services for Co Donegal.
Reacting to the news of the resignation of cancer surgeon Mr Kevin Moran, the group has issued an impassioned plea to those in power.
This is their statement in full.
“Is this what you want for your family at Letterkenny Hospital?
“Are you the people of Donegal aware of how budgets cuts, recruitment embargo, waiting lists, the 200 women who won’t be seen at the Breast Unit within the 12 week guidelines, now the resignation of the cancer surgeon Mr Moran impact on patient services at Letterkenny General Hospital?
“Donegal Action for Cancer Care have had serious concerns over a very long period regarding the Government’s, The Dept. of Health & the HSE’s commitment to health services in Donegal in particular Letterkenny General Hospital.
Letterkenny Hospital will we are told for many years & recently not get a second Breast Surgeon….why? They say we don’t have the numbers?
“Last summer 300 women were waiting on an appointment, in January this year it had rose to 600. Then we had the great announcement on the 20th & 21st Jan of the short & medium term plan that Letterkenny Hospital would have a Locum Breast Surgeon. This turns out to be on the 19th, 20th & 21st February as this is the only dates the Locum is available.
“We ask is this part of an ongoing process to remove the Breast Cancer Services at the hospital? We remind people that we have an email that was sent on the 1st September 2014 that would imply that there were efforts in place to do that. We have been told that the Breast Services are secure…we ask how can that be? We also highlight the fact that we have two Breast Radiologists at Letterkenny, one we DACC are assuming will be retiring in a few years time, one has come back out of retirement. We are told that the position for a Breast Radiologist has been advertised for 18 months and no one has applied. Who would want to come and work at a hospital with just one Breast Surgeon?
“Before that we heard of the patients who had been on the waiting list at Letterkenny Hospital then were taken off as they could then avail of the great HSE plan to send & pay for patients to go to Private Hospitals to get treated. What happened we are told is that the HSE fund ran out of money so the patients who had been taken off the waiting list are now referred back to Letterkenny Hospital. They will have to re-join the waiting list they were taken off!!!
“The out patients wait for a routine appointment is two years two months, for an urgent appointment it is one year and four months while the recall backlog is two years.
“DACC had asked if extra money will be made available to Letterkenny Hospital to now treat these patients and are awaiting an answer.
“We now hear that the distinguished urologist and general surgeon has resigned due to lack of resources available to him to treat his patients.
“Mr. Moran said “I don’t have access to beds, I don’t have adequate access to operating theatres and I can’t recruit and retain the junior staff and support staff that I need.The main issue is recruitment and retention. For example, to replace me takes a general surgeon and a urologist , two people, two disciplines, and while they’re able to get a locum general surgeon I believe they will have a major difficulty recruiting a Urologist”.
“During his time in Donegal DACC understand that he established the urology service at the hospital as well as the first breast clinic outside St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin. This gives another example of the calibre of great staff at Letterkenny Hospital. So what about the patients who are now without their consultant at the end of February?
‘There are 425 men with prostate cancers & 160 women & men with bladder cancers that need to be followed up.
“But then came the announcement that there are plans to replace respected cancer surgeon Dr Moran had been laid out by Letterkenny General Hospital and the Saolta University Health Care Group. “To date a locum consultant general surgeon has been appointed from the 23rd Feb until the 16th April. Thereafter, a temporary general surgeon has been appointed for one year, from 16th April”. “The existing cystoscopy lists at LGH will continue along with the out-patient clinics and day surgery services. In-patient care will continue and strengthen its existing links with Galway University Hospital which will provide enhanced cover pending the appointment of a full time Consultant Urologist at LGH.”
“So the first question we in DACC ask is will there be additional resources with these replacement posts? Are the new replacement staff going to come to a hospital where the consultant left due to a shortage of resources? A new job & no resources to treat your patients. The announcement does not make sense & in a way is an insult to the people of Donegal especially the patients!
“And once again we hear that links with Galway Hospital will continue & strengthen….does this mean patients will in bigger numbers head down the road to Galway Hospital who by the way have their own problems with services. Or maybe this time Galway staff will travel to Letterkenny weekly or more often if needed.
“In 2011 as part of cross border funding under Co-operating & Working Together 9 million was made available for acute hospital services. As part of this Letterkenny was among other important things to get a second full time Urologist with the post to be advertised in August 2011.This did not happen. Why? The recruitment embargo didn’t allow for it. This 2nd Urologist for Letterkenny Hospital would have allowed for the TRUS Biopsies to be carried out at Letterkenny Hospital. This post would have been funded through CAWT for two years.
“There were plans to have a Rapid Access Clinic at Letterkenny Hospital and a start date had been scheduled but it never happened. DACC asked why it didn’t but we haven’t had an answer.
“As DACC have said many times there are Political Politics and Medical Politics and we are not always sure where Donegal patients are on either list. It is now time to take action or all the great & many achievements of Letterkenny Hospital over many years that we never hear off will not only be lost but Letterkenny Hospital will be the new community hospital of the future. Is this what you want for you, your family & friends?
“DACC have made contact with many key people in their paid positions regarding our concerns.
“We have asked Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD to come to Letterkenny Hospital & also to meet with DACC.
“Do not let those in highly paid positions in power downgrade our hospital!
“So much great work happens there each day.
“Thank you for taking the time to read this.”