One in eight people in Donegal are on a waiting list for Letterkenny University Hospital, the Dáil has heard.
Sinn Fein Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn raised serious concerns over funding discrimination at LUH again this week.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, LUH had the sixth highest number of inpatients of any hospital in the State at over 24,000. Despite this, LUH ranks only 13th for budget allocations, 14th for their numbers of consultants and 12th for their numbers of nurses and midwives.
The outpatient waiting list at LUH has jumped by 43% since 2015.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn told the Dáil yesterday: “There are more than 20,000 people in a county of 160,000 on the waiting list. That amounts to one in eight. I am not even including Sligo hospital, whose waiting list includes people from south Donegal. That is a damning indictment of Government after Government.”
“What is happening is a scandal,” Deputy Mac Lochlainn said.
“Some allowances can be made for the fact that the major hospitals in Dublin and Galway are dealing with additional specialities but how can we explain the circumstances whereby budgets in the major hospitals are two to three times greater per capita than in Letterkenny University Hospital?”
The discrimination, he said, has a direct impact on patients.
“There has to be acceptance in the HSE that Donegal is treated like a backwater. It means real impacts in Donegal, where people are forced to travel huge distances for basic procedures unnecessarily. We should have the specialities in Letterkenny University Hospital, the sixth largest hospital in the State. People should not have to travel long distances. This is about equality of access to healthcare.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn called on the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to examine the matter.
“Tackling the waiting lists is the greatest challenge we face in healthcare in our country,” said Minister Donnelly, as he announced intentions to develop a longer term, multi-annual waiting list plan.
Minister Donnelly told the Dáil: “Targets and detailed hospital-by-hospital lists and plans are being established and it is our full intention to keep driving and investing on this until we meet the prescribed Sláintecare waiting list times for inpatient, outpatient and diagnostic care.”