The HSE has confirmed it plans to invest more than €4 million in upgrading works to retain and enhance community hospital services in Stranorlar and Ramelton.
The plan also includes a 100 bed community hospital for Letterkenny.
The confirmation follows a meeting with HSE Area Manager John Hayes.
Minister Joe McHugh also says a report from the HSE on services in Lifford is still ongoing.
Deputy McHugh confirmed “Mr Hayes has told me that a report from construction consultants Rhatigans has recommended significant spends on the facilities in Ramelton and Stranorlar, with around €2.75M at St Joseph’s and around €1.5M in Ramelton.
“This spend will retain and enhance services at both hospitals, dealing with a number of legacy issues surrounding privacy for patients and meeting recommended HIQA standards. I am delighted with this news today. The reports on Ramelton and Stranorlar have now gone to HIQA for approval.
“I want to pay tribute to all those involved in the SOS group who have focused attention on the need to retain and enhance services in Donegal.
“A design team is also about to be appointed to come up with a new facility in Letterkenny with around 100 beds, staffed and run by the HSE.
“While there are still three long term beds in Lifford, I believe it is essential that Lifford Hospital services are retained. I am awaiting the outcome of the review of services at Lifford. The HSE tells me that is still being worked on.”
Minister McHugh said he visited the hospital recently to see the amazing services which are provided at Lifford in a building which is one of the oldest in the county.
He said the GP service on the same site is recognised as one of the leading primary care centres in the country.
“Issues have been raised over the future of a building constructed in the 1770s. However I believe the HSE needs to employ the same strategy used by the Department of Education in retaining and enhancing older buildings which have stood the test of time. St Eunan’s College in Letterkenny is more than a century old and the Department in that case decided to retain and enhance the facilities rather than move to a green field site.
“Respite and step-down beds and other services should be retained in Lifford and I support that idea.”
Minister McHugh added: “I am delighted with this news today from the HSE. The plans are now awaiting HIQA approval with the review’s recommendations for building work carried out with that in mind.
“My focus now is to work again with the SOS group to retain services at Lifford and I believe that must be done.
“One of the issues about the site has been traffic but with the A5 construction getting underway later this year, a new bridge link between Lifford and Strabane will resolve that issue. Once again I want to pay tribute to the SOS group whose sole aim throughout has been to maintain community hospitals where they belong, at the heart of our communities.”