The future plans for three Donegal Community Hospitals have been cast in doubt once more due to a lack of commitment from the Department of Health.
Funding security for St Joseph’s Stranorlar, Ramelton and Lifford Community Hospitals may not come until 2021, according to the latest revelations in the Dáil.
Donegal Deputy Pat the Cope said he was shocked and bewildered by a response he received from the Minister for Health this week.
“Following recent assurances given by Government, HSE and the Department I certainly felt I would have received a positive answer regarding these three community hospitals but the reply I was given lacked any funding commitment and postponed any real commitment until early 2021,” said Pat the Cope.
The downgrading of three Community Hospitals has been subject to much debate since January 2016.
Pat the Cope questioned the Minister over the issue again this week, but he was told that: “These projects will be progressed when funding becomes available and the timelines confirmed on receipt of funding. In the short term the HSE will invest minor capital in both units 2019 & 2020 in order to deal with HIQA compliance issues.”
Deputy Gallagher commented: “Unfortunately, there is absolutely no commitment to invest major investment which is urgently required for all three Community Hospitals , the current Capital Plan runs from 2016 to 2021, so therefore by extension if only minor funding will be available from 2019 until 2020, and the reality whereby the current Capital Plan expires in mid-2021 there is little or no actual prospect of funding being provided for these three community hospitals.”
“The other realities which we all know, is that the current capital plan of the HSE and Department of Health is grossly underfunded due to overspends on other capital projects elsewhere in the state.”
The Fianna Fáil TD slammed recent assurances on the hospitals as a “public gimmick”.
He said: “I firmly believe we are no further advanced now than what we were when the original decision was taken in 2016 to downgrade these hospitals, in the absence of a funding commitment and an actual plan for the upgrade of all three community hospitals, then there is no guarantee for future of the long stay accommodation units and services in these hospitals.”