Deputy Pearse Doherty has heavily criticised both the HSE and the Government over the ongoing disruption to speech and language Therapy services provided at Falcarragh Community Hospital.
The Donegal Deputy was speaking after it was confirmed that the service, which had previously been available to patients two days per week, has been forced to reduce services to just one day each week owing to ongoing staffing issues at the facility.
Additionally, it has been confirmed that further service disruption at the facility is now extremely likely due to the impending retirement of a service therapist.
Deputy Doherty said “Over recent weeks, I have received a number of reports from constituents who’ve expressed deep concern and frustration at the continuing curtailment of Speech and Language therapy services at Falcarragh hospital.
“In an effort to have these concerns highlighted, I immediately raised the matter with the Minister for Health in the Dáil where I asked him to explain why service users were experiencing difficulty in accessing therapies and to outline what measures would be put in place to ensure that patients would receive appointments in a timely manner.
“I’ve now received a full response from the HSE in which it’s been confirmed that the Speech and Language therapy service at Falcarragh has been forced to scale back to a single day of service each week since January due to staff leave.
“More worryingly however is that it has also been revealed that, due to the retirement of a service therapist this month, the HSE are now in the process of finding a replacement to take up the post.
“While it’s stated that some cross cover will be provided by Letterkenny Primary care for priority cases, management have sought permission to fill service vacancies through agency staff however, by the HSE’s own admission it is not particularly hopeful that this recruitment process will be successful.”
“This is completely unacceptable to the patients and staff at the facility, particularly as this is not the first occasion that they have been forced to experience severe service disruptions like this.
“In fact, for a number of months throughout 2016 right up until January last year, the service had to be reduced from a two day service to a single day service each week following a staff resignation, as well as two unsuccessful recruitment drives which followed.
“And while the service reverted back to two days per week following the sourcing of additional outside cross cover, here we are again a year later and these services disruptions continue to inconvenience service users at Falcarragh hospital.
“This is simply not good enough and I will continue to make representations on behalf of patients, their families and staff until such time as Speech and Language Therapy services in Falcarragh are reinstated in full.”