Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has reacted angrily to the latest remarks from Health Minister Simon Harris in which he again failed to provide any new assurances that a second permanent Breast Surgeon will be appointed to Letterkenny University Hospital.
Responding to a recent Dáil Question tabled by Deputy Doherty in which the Minister was asked to outline the progress being made to secure the much needed consultant post for the hospital, Minister Harris would only confirm that the requirements of the Symptomatic Breast clinic continue to be assessed, before reaffirming that a second surgeon remains assigned to LUH but only on a locum basis.
Criticising the Minister’s reply, Deputy Doherty said:
“For years now campaigners and patient advocacy groups have worked tirelessly to lobby for the appointment of a badly needed second permanent breast surgeon as part of cancer services here at Letterkenny Hospital.
“Then before the last General Election Minister Joe McHugh announced, to much fanfare, that a second breast surgeon had finally been secured for the hospital, a statement which proceeded months of stalemate before it was finally confirmed that a locum consultant would finally take up the position in July 2017 before assurances were given that a permanent appointment would follow.
“Then shockingly it was confirmed to Sinn Féin almost exactly a year ago today that the hospital had still not received formal approval for a permanent second consultant breast surgeon.
“Twelve months on from that bombshell and we are still no further forward, in fact, this reply which I’ve now received from the Minister merely states that a locum consultant remains employed at the hospital on a temporary pay roll basis.
“In responding to my Dáil Question on the status of efforts to secure a permanent position for the Breast Clinic at LUH, Minister Harris offered no fresh hope that a permanent consultant would be recruited.
“Instead, the Minister could only reaffirm that the requirements of the clinic continue to be assessed with a view to ensuring that arrangements are in place to meet the present and future needs of the service.
“Time and time again patients, staff, and campaigners have been let down and they have been given false hope from Government Ministers, including Minister Joe McHugh, that this issue would be resolved.
“When will the Minister come clean and tell the people of Donegal the truth about what is really happening with the post?
“I pledge to continue to work closely alongside all stakeholders, including local patient groups, to keep the needs of the service at the top of the agenda because this situation and uncertainty surrounding this post cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.”