BY KATE HEANEY
UNION and staff representatives at Letterkenny General Hospital were this week awaiting proposals from management regarding the redeployment of staff to the new €20 million medical unit due to open on September 13.
While speculation was rife that the Gynaecology services at the hospital are to be relocated, unions and staff have not been asked to agree to such a move. It is understood that staff must be available to man the new medical unit with no hiring of new staff permitted by the HSE.
Industrial Relations Officer, Maura Hickey of the Irish Midwives and Nurses Organisation was at LGH on Monday for discussions with management and the union representatives.
“We had discussion about possible proposals with regard to opening the new medical block. We are awaiting a proposal from management for our members,” Ms Hickey said.
IMPACT representative Richie Carrothers said management will be “compelled” to engage with their members and present them with a proposal.
“Moving the Gynaecology ward was never put in front of us and we would have grave misgivings about it being moved. I believe the hospital is playing fast and loose with this. I would like to see a commitment from management that they will retain this service in its current format if not improve it,” Mr Carrothers said.
On the question of the new €20 million medical block being opened with no extra staff employed, Mr Carrothers said it was “near impossible”.
“We remain solution focused and want to see the core services protected. It remains to be seen if it will open as planned on September 13. A small window of opportunity exists to realise this. It is about meeting the priorities required for it to open.
“We will respond to any proposals that emerge,” he added.
Meanwhile LGH Manager Mr Sean Murphy said they were looking at how they might relocate the Gynaecology service from its current ward to other surgical wards in the hospital that will allow them to open the new medical unit.
He assured the public there would be no closure of the Gynaecology service.
“We are looking very thoroughly at the most appropriate way to provide the services. What we are looking at is what will be most effective and most appropriate and discussions are ongoing. It is too early for me to give reassurances – to early in the process,” Mr Murphy said.
Donegal North East Deputy Joe Mc Hugh has written to Mr Murphy seeking a meeting with all Oireachtas members to discuss the future of the Gynaecology Ward at the hospital.