A SECOND protest vigil will take place outside Letterkenny University Hospital on Friday amid calls for an end to the waiting list scandal.
The Donegal vigil is one of a number taking place across the country on Good Friday, at 5pm, under the banner of ‘Still Waiting’ campaign.
It comes just weeks after large crowds attended a candlelit vigil outside LUH demanding an end to the current crisis in the health care system, both locally and nationwide.
Organisers of this evening’s vigils say they are being held in the name of those who are still on waiting lists for operations, waiting on trolleys for hospital admission, or waiting on treatment for medication.
Speaking ahead of the event, Still Waiting Campaign Coordinator, Cyril Brennan, over the past three decades, thousands of beds have been stripped from the system.
“The Irish health care system is in crisis,” he said.
“Each year, 350 people die needlessly on waiting lists that seem to grow every longer. Despite crocodile tears from successive governments, the cold reality is that over the last thirty years thousands of beds have been stripped from the system.”
Mr Brennan said the campaign group is calling for an overhaul to the system in a bid to prioritise prevention over cure.
“Specifically, we advocate a state-run home help service and a much larger capacity of transition beds in community hospitals. We also advocate increasing bed numbers to the EU average and restoring nurses and healthcare workers wages to pre crisis levels.”
He said focus should also be placed on increasing physiotherapy and occupational therapy services.
“Real investment in primary care would facilitate the recycling of acute beds and reduce the need for trolleys in our Accident and
Emergency Departments. Increased emphasis on respite care and home carers would also allow many more people to be treated at home.”
Under-funding in mental health also forms a major part of the campaign, with up to one million people per year defined by the Health
Service Executive as suffering depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation.
“This is not remotely acceptable. The current Health Minister, Simon Harris, has completely failed. We, therefore, call for his resignation.”
Mr Brennan said the campaign is advocating for two-tier medicine in Ireland.
“The health service must be rationed on the basis of patient need, rather than ability to pay. Health care must be free at the point of use and paid for through direct taxation.”
Meanwhile, tomorrow night, a public meeting takes place at the Orchard Inn, Letterkenny, at 8pm. The event is open to anyone who is concerned about hospital waiting lists for appointments, operations, mental health difficulties and accessing services for children and the elderly.
For more information contact 085 1528221.