Serious questions have been raised after a crisis situation saw patients being treated in ambulances outside Letterkenny University Hospital last night.
At one point, seven ambulances were queuing outside with paramedics treating patients as they waited for beds.
Extra staff were drafted in to open an extra 11 beds onsite, as the hospital continues to deal with growing numbers of Covid-19 patients. The latest records from LUH show 79 patients battling Covid-19 onsite.
The incident has sparked calls for an explanation into how the events occurred.
Donegal Sinn Féin T.Ds Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty have called on management at the hospital and the HSE to issue a full account of what happened.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “We recognise the unprecedented public health emergency that has emerged due to Covid-19 and the fact that 170 staff Letterkenny University Hospital are off-work due to Covid. It is a long-established fact that the hospital has, historically, been underfunded. However, the situation over the weekend whereby patients were spending upwards of three hours in ambulances outside of the hospital should not have been allowed to occur.”
“The amazing frontline staff who made themselves available over the weekend to come in and work at the hospital must be applauded, many of them coming off leave to do so. But there is a genuine question to be asked as to why 11 beds were out-of-use in the hospital at this time?”
“Why did the hospital management not issue a public call for healthcare workers in the county to come forward and to make themselves available to staff these beds?”
“Why was the HSE Emergency Management Plan not implemented, as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has called for?”
“Why were there not contingency processes in place to ensure that there was a backup plan so that we didn’t have to reach a point whereby patients did not have to be treated in ambulances?”
“What happened was dangerous for patients, the paramedic crews and staff.”
Deputies MacLochlainn and Doherty have reminded the people of Donegal that the Covid-19 situation remains a real threat in the community and are urging people to stay at home, stay safe and to follow public health advice.