Bed capacity at a Donegal community hospital has remained at just 40% since it was downgraded due to refurbishment works.
The numbers of patients at Falcarragh Community Hospital dropped from more than 25 to just 11 last March.
Following a HIQA inspection a refurbishment was recommended.
However, Donegal Daily has been informed by the HSE that the refurbishment will not now start until the first quarter of next year.
No completion date for this work has been given.
At present, any other respite patients in the area must go to either Dungloe Community Hospital or Aras Gaoth Dobhair Private Nursing Home.
A HSE spokesperson said “The refurbishment of the older wing of the hospital will ensure the quality and safety of care and the improvement of the lived experience of all residents.
“Furthermore, it will ensure the premises will be in compliance with HIQA regulations.
“To facilitate the works the hospital ceased taking Respite admissions since March to allow for the removal of equipment etc and the preparation required for the building works to commence.”
The spokesperson added that Day Services are open in Falcarragh Community Hospital 3 days per week and Home Support is available to those clients who require Home Support Services.
Local county councillor Michael McClafferty said it was simply not good enough to leave a section of the hospital closed to patients while no work was carried out to renovate it.
“It is simply very unsatisfactory and frustrating for local patients that it is taking so long to renovate and refurbish such a vital community hospital.
“We have a situation in Letterkenny University Hospital where it is jammed to capacity and there is no stepdown places for people living in the Falcarragh area.
“To say that there are places in Dungloe and Gaoth Dobhair is just not acceptable either because these people want to go to the hospital that is closest to their families.
“There is simply no excuse why work to refurbish Falcarragh Community Hospital has taken this long and no we are told that it will not even start until the first quarter of next year. When will it even finish?
“We are in a health crisis and ANY available ned should be utilised to the capacity it can be.
“We havre a situation where we have fifteen beds in a community hospital not being used for what will be a year and there is no good excuse for it,” he said.