The group set up to save community hospitals in Ramelton, Stranorlar and Lifford no longer exists in its original format.
“The Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group Committee have had no representation on the Save Our Services umbrella group since January and, and we have had no interaction with the SOS umbrella group, and from that date they have not and no longer represent Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group, St Joseph’s Hospital Stranorlar, or the views that we hold and represent,” said Fr John Joe Duffy, chairman of the Stranorlar group.
He also insisted that the proposed solutions being offered were an attempt to hoodwink the group into walking the Stranorlar facility into closure.
That was the strong message to come out of a meeting of the group in the Base Centre, Stranorlar, last night.
It comes amid claims by the Committee that the short term solutions being offered presently to the Save Our Services (SOS) umbrella group will not guarantee a permanent and long term solution for St Joseph’s Hospital.
Last night’s meeting comes after the SOS Group met HSE Manager John Hayes and Minister Joe McHugh at which the HSE confirmed that it intends to invest more than €4 million in upgrading works to retain and enhance community hospital services in both Stranorlar and Ramelton.
Speaking to the Donegal News ahead of last night’s meeting, Fr Duffy said the short term solutions being offered presently to the Save Our Services umbrella group will only be enough to get over the next hump.
“It does not guarantee a permanent and long term solution for our hospital. This was not the plan we signed up to at a packed meeting in Jackson’s Hotel on Saturday, February 13, 2016 when we were mandated to seek a plan that would guarantee our hospitals for future generations,” he said.
Referring to last week’s statement issued by Minister McHugh, Fr Duffy said that it was “abundantly clear” that no capital announcement has been made for the two hospitals.
“The solution being offered does not meet the original demand of our campaign from February 21, 2016 as outlined in the press statement issued on that date, which is still the position and demands of the St Joseph’s Committee. The St Joseph’s Committee cannot agree any interim solution as this will be selling short the mandate given to us by the thousands of people who marched on the streets of Ballybofey/Stranorlar on Saturday, February 13, 2016.
“Our campaign is based on the goal and aim of securing long term beds/residential unit, short stay capacity, dementia unit and full restoration of all services, full restoration of staffing numbers and an absolute guarantee that long term bed capacity and dementia unit capacity will be guaranteed into 2030 and beyond,” he said.
While Fr Duffy’s Committee support any new hospital, including that at Letterkenny, it cannot be at the expense of St Joseph’s.
“It has to be additional capacity to our hospital. Our hospital cannot be sold short and placed into a situation that an existing hospital twenty minutes from us will be on a different playing pitch to us.
“We must be treated equally with the new building and be given the same level of commitment so that St Joseph’s Hospital and all its services, including long term beds/residential unit and dementia unit be brought onto the same playing level as the new hospital building in Letterkenny. We must have certainty and guarantee that the standards at both hospitals will be equal post 2021. We require that level of commitment from government and the HSE. We, in St Joseph’s Committee, are looking at a permanent long term solution that will see our hospital with the same level of standards as the new building at Letterkenny into 2030 and beyond.”
All six elected members of the local electoral area were invited to attend last night’s meeting.
“We are very much in touch with local groups who have all given their full support to the St Joseph’s Hospital campaign,” he added.
The figures, released to Councillor Ciaran Brogan this week, show an increase of 13.3% on the previous year.
This is John's first trip to the World Championships where he will come up against full-time professionals.