Department of Health Confirms it has now received all Documents on Proposals for Donegal Community Hospitals
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has welcomed confirmation that the Department of Health has now finally received all documents in respect of revised proposals for Donegal Community Hospitals.
The news comes after it was first revealed last July that the Department had stalled granting approval for revised HSE plans to retain and refurbish long stay residential care beds presently housed at Lifford, Ramelton and St Joseph’s Community Hospitals, claiming that it was seeking additional information from the HSE before a decision would be made on the future of the facilities.
Welcoming today’s confirmation, Deputy Doherty said:
“Earlier in the summer I had it confirmed to me in a reply from the Minister for Health to a Dáil Question that, to everyone’s amazement, the Department of Health had yet to approve amended HSE plans for long stay residential care beds at Donegal’s community hospitals, despite the HSE having written to the Department months before this to seek their approval.
“This created much anger throughout the county as this was but the latest in a long string of controversies which have plunged the future of long term residential care beds at Lifford, Ramelton and St Joseph’s Community Hospitals into uncertainty ever since the Government first unveiled its Capital Investment Programme for Community Nursing Units back in 2016.
“The original plan proposed to replace the existing long stay residential care beds at these hospitals with a new nursing facility in Letterkenny, spelling the effective downgrading of these hospital in Lifford, Ramelton and Stranorlar by removing long stay bed from them.
“The subsequent backlash from the community thankfully forced the HSE to do a U-turn and the executive finalized revised proposals last March which, under this tweaked plan, effectively reversed this earlier decision with the HSE now instead proposing to retain these existing long stay services, while also going ahead with plans to build a new unit in Letterkenny.
“So when it was revealed earlier in the summer that, instead of backing the revised plans, the Department instead choose to stall giving them the green light to claim it required further information, there was palpable anger throughout Donegal.
“This was because the shocking statement was a clear admission from the Minister that both he and his Department were happy to keep these communities in suspense and to keep them second guessing while the future of long stay residential community care here hung in the balance.
“This stalling allowed the Government, the Department of Health and the HSE to play the blame game and pass the buck all while communities in Lifford, Ramelton and the Twin Towns could do nothing but wait on tender hooks – that was unforgiveable.
“As everyone knows, I immediately called on the Minister and the Department to stop playing games with people’s lives and to make a decision to retain long stay beds at these community hospitals and to do what’s in the best interest of these communities.
“I am happy to now have had it confirmed that the Department of Health received the further information it had sought and that those documents were made available last month, and that it is now considering the revised HSE proposals for three community hospitals.
“While it’s ridiculous and completely unnecessary that it has taken this long to get to this stage, I welcome the fact that things are now finally progressing and I will continue to press on all involved in this process, including the Minister, the HSE and the Department, the importance of ensuring that these services remain in place for the very communities they are there to serve.”