Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, is in Donegal today to join Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD and Pearse Doherty TD for a number of meetings with those in the health sector in the county.
The Sinn Féin team will meet with members of the Forsa and SIPTU trade unions this morning to discuss the challenges and opportunities for healthcare workers in the county. Following this, the team will meet with Donegal Action for Cancer Care to discuss a range of issues which that group is strongly campaigning for.
At lunchtime, the representatives will meet with management at Letterkenny University Hospital. Among the issues for discussion will be the current hospital waiting times, trolley numbers and recruitment challenges; as well as a discussion on the latest HIQA report into gynaecology services in the hospital and which identified a number of governance issues there.
Finally, the team will make their way to Lifford where they have a meeting at Lifford Community Hospital.
Speaking in Letterkenny this morning, Teachta Cullinane said: “I’m glad to be in Donegal and to be engaging with those in the health sector here to discuss both the challenges and opportunities that they are facing.
“Even on a national scale, it is clear to see that Donegal has very serious problems in terms of trolley figures and bed capacity at LUH, waiting times and budgetary allocation.
“In recent months we have seen LUH at the top of almost every weekly trolley-watch list.
“In terms of funding allocation, my colleague Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD was informed through a Parliamentary Question that 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 top six funded hospitals in the State, located in Dublin, Cork and Galway all receive from two to three times the annual budget of Letterkenny University Hospital.
“This is an issue of concern and must be rectified.
“So I am here, on the ground and meeting with those who work in the everyday reality of these figures.
“Earlier this year, Sinn Féin launched our Alternative Budget for Health 2022, which sets out the first steps for making healthcare accessible and affordable.
“That includes €679m for boosting hospital capacity and tackling waiting lists, and €109m for reducing the cost of care and medicines for workers and families.
“It is essential that safe staffing levels, proactive workforce planning, and occupational wellbeing supports are implemented as part of this.
“We also propose a series of measures including €198m for primary and community service, €114m for mental health, €112m for disability services, and €46m for addiction and recovery.
“Our proposals also set out investment of €106m in health strategies, including €60m for the Maternity strategy for major investment.
“We are also proposing €42m for cancer services, and €10m to kickstart a new Cardiovascular Health Strategy.
“A major investment in eHealth and IT modernisation was promised in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, and this must be delivered.
“In spending this allocation, Sinn Féin in government would prioritise individual patient health identifiers, a centralised referral system, and an integrated waiting list management system.
“Without these measures, the health service will continue to fail in managing waiting lists and providing accessible, affordable, and timely care.
“The Sinn Féin plan would deliver for Donegal.”
Speaking today, Teachta Mac Lochlainn said: “It’s great to welcome David to Donegal and these meetings are evidence of Sinn Féin’s commitment to seriously fixing what is wrong in our health system.
“I want to see Sinn Féin lead the next Government and I want to see David as the next Minister for Health in that Government.
“Therefore, it is important to have David here in the county so that he can understand the issues here and to meet with those who work in and manage the services here.”