The inaugural meeting of the Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO1) Island Project Group took place on Arranmore Island today.
An overview of life on Tory Island and Arranmore Island, including the unique challenges and opportunities faced by Islanders, was provided.
Addressing the meeting, John McCafferty, Manager, Comharchumann Forbartha and Fostaíochta Árainn Mhór, said: ”Comharchumann Forbartha and Fostaíochta Árainn Mhór are delighted that the HSE have begun to implement the recommendations of the Primary Care Island Services Review.
“There are many points included within the review which will have a significant impact on the community of Arranmore Island going forward, and we welcome the opportunity to be a party to the future-proofing of healthcare on the island.”
The HSE Primary Care Island Services Review Report (2017) was formally launched in November 2018 and has led to the establishment of the HSE Primary Care Island Services Project.
The review focused on the provision of health services to the population of almost 3,000 who lived on 18 islands off the coast of Ireland, that are not connected by a land causeway with the mainland.
Marjorie Carroll, Comharchumann Thoraí Teo, in her address to the meeting said: “We welcome the establishment of the CHO 1 Island Services Project Group.
“The isolated geographic location of Tory Island presents unique challenges that must inform how health services will be provided in the future.
“We look forward to working with the HSE and other agencies in improving access to health services for those living on Tory Island and in ensuring the voice of the Islanders remains central to this work”.
Island Services Project Groups have been set up in collaboration with the Islander’s and other interagency groups, tasked with the implementation of the recommendations set out in the report.
Speaking also at the meeting, Dr Kevin Quinn GP Arranmore Island said: “I have worked for 35 years as a GP on Arranmore and know that services work well when communication is good and we have a common vision.
“We must continue to maintain and improve services and this will require continuous support to both primary healthcare providers and voluntary community groups.
“The project is to be welcomed and I look forward to its implementation.”
John Hayes, Chief Officer CHO 1 and Chair of the Island Services Project Board, highlighted the importance of collaborative working with the Island communities and local interagency groups in addressing the recommendations contained in the report.
He added: “Recently formed structures in Community Health areas, the Department of Health and Emergency Management will advance this work.
All of these groups will partner with and include representatives from other agencies such as the Councils, Island Communities and so on.
“I welcome the establishment of the CHO 1 Island Services Project Group and the opportunity to hold this first meeting on Arranmore Island.
“There is a significant amount of work to be undertaken over the coming months and years, to ensure high-quality sustainable health services for the Islands population.
“However despite the challenges, the HSE is committed to ensuring this work is progressed in a coordinated manner, with the voice of the Islander’s central to the process,” he said.
“Today marks the beginning of an exciting chapter in the journey toward the provision a fair, high quality and sustainable Primary Care services to Island communities in Donegal and I wish the members of the Island Services Project Group every success in their work.”
Photos: Clive Wasson