Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry Mc Monagle has given a cautious welcome to the response he has received from the SAOLTA University Health Care Group in relation to a third Rheumatologist Consultant to be based inLetterkenny.
Cllr Mc Monagle raised the lack of a Rheumatologist Consultant at Letterkenny General Hospital at Tuesdays Regional Health Forum West meeting in Galway.
Cllr Mc Monagle told the meeting of commitment made in 2012 by the then Minister of Health Dr James Reilly to reinstate the Rheumatology clinic at Letterkenny General Hospital in the first quarter of 2013. We are now in the second quarter of 2015 he told the meeting with no sign as yet of the clinic being set up and whilst he accepted there have been genuine attempts by the SAOLTA group to reinstate the clinics at Letterkenny General Hospital he was still at a loss as to why it was taking so long to appoint a third Rheumatologist Consultant to service Donegal.
Cllr Mc Monagle described to the meeting the arduous journey that over 500 patients with different levels of arthritis are having to make travelling from Donegal to Our Lady’s hospital,Manorhamilton in Co Leitrim for routine check ups and treatment since the clinic service was removed from Letterkenny General Hospital over five years ago.
This is not good enough he said and goes against the very ethos of the HSE own National Service Plan which describes the quality and patient safety enablement programme of which some of the objectives include that services “must be relevant to the needs of the population” and that “patients must be appropriately empowered to interact with the service”
The current arrangements of Donegal patients having to travel to ManorHamilton clearly do not meet the needs of the population of Donegal and fly in the face of the HSE own stated objectives.
Cllr Mc Monagle told the meeting that there has been a 37% increase in the number of new and returning Rheumatology Outpatients visits in 2011 compared with 2009. We have an increasing number of patients in Donegal in need of Rheumatology treatment both new and returning patients and with 32,000 patients in Donegal with a diagnosis of Arthritis and over five hundred patients already attending the rheumatology services at Manorhamilton, this number is only set to increase.
Cllr Mc Monagle concluded by saying it is quite clear to me that this situation cannot be allowed to continue. To expect patients from Donegal suffering with Arthritis to continue to make this long arduous journey to Manorhamilton is cruel and must end. I for one will continue to bring pressure on the SAOLTA Group and indeed the Government to deliver on their promises of a Third Rheumatologist Consultant for Letterkenny without further delay.