Sinn Féin Petition Demanding Reopening of LUH Short Stay Ward to be presented to Minister Today as over 5,600 Back Campaign


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty and Senator Pádraig MacLochlainn will this morning (Tuesday) deliver a petition to the Department of Health calling on the Government to immediately approve funding for the reopening of the 19 bed Short Stay Ward at Letterkenny University Hospital.




The petition, which was initiated as part of the party’s ongoing campaign to have the facility reopened and has since garnered 5,689 signatures from people across the county, is expected to heap yet further pressure on the Minister for Health to reinstate the unit.




Speaking in advance of this morning’s handover, Senator MacLochlainn said:




“This morning Sinn Féin will deliver signed copies of our petition to demand that the Government immediately approve the necessary funding needed to reopen the 19 bed Short Stay Ward at Letterkenny University Hospital.




“Since we launched the petition last July, over 5,600 people from across Donegal have put their names to this campaign to demand that the facility be reinstated.




“The response from the people of Donegal has been phenomenal and I must commend them for the great support they have shown as part of this initiative. 




“As many people will be aware, we initiated this campaign to have these beds brought back into use because additional bed capacity is urgently needed at the hospital which continues to experience some of the highest levels of overcrowding seen anywhere in the state.




“In fact, last year a total of 4,889 patients languished on trolleys and chairs owing to overcrowding at the hospital’s Emergency Department.




“This means that for every day of 2017 an average of 19 people had been forced to wait on trolleys.




“This is despite the fact that mere metres away there is a 19 bedded ward lying empty – that is simply scandalous.




“This morning, Sinn Féin will present copies of this petition to the Department Head Office on Dublin’s Lower Baggot Street for the attention of Minister Harris to convey to him the sheer level of anger which exists amongst ordinary people here in Donegal over this ridiculous situation.




Teachta Pearse Doherty added:




“Senator MacLochlainn and I started this important campaign earlier this year because it was clear that people from across Donegal have had enough of being ignored time and time again by Government and are demanding action to tackle the crisis in health.




“Instead of being an exceptional event, overcrowding at LUH has simply become an everyday reality at the hospital which continues to struggle with inadequate capacity and increasing patient numbers.




“And while Management at the hospital last year sought approval from the HSE to open and staff the Short Stay Ward at a cost of €1.8M, the Minister has sat on his hands and has done nothing.




“This is despite Senator MacLochlainn and I being on the record of both the Dáil and the Seanad calling on the Minister to urgently reopen the facility.




“Clearly, given the fact that the unit remains closed the Government has so far failed to take these calls seriously.




“However, considering the truly remarkable response from the public to our campaign, as evidenced by the thousands who’ve signed the petition both online and in person at stalls set up across local towns and villages over recent weeks, the people of Donegal will not stay silent.




“And given that Budget 2019 is to be announced later today, I will once again be using my speech as Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson in the Dáil to highlight the need for Government to priorities spending in key areas including health and housing to tackle what are now serious crises in our society.”