A ‘day of action’ will take place at Letterkenny hospital this week as part of a national drive to highlight pressures facing the health service.
Campaigners will gather outside hospitals on January 21 at 1pm to demand an end to cuts and to call on the government to address overcrowding and staff shortages.
Co-ordinating the protest in Letterkenny is Mary T Sweeney.
She said people have had enough of the “alarming” stories coming from patients and medical staff about conditions in emergency departments and wards.
“People across Donegal are genuinely anxious and after hearing reports of overcrowding and staff shortages emerging from our accident and emergency department, now is the time for communities to stand up and express their alarm at these inhumane and soul-destroying conditions in our hospitals,” Ms Sweeney said.
Figures from the HSE show that 45 beds across Falcarragh, Carndonagh and Ramelton community hospitals have been empty in recent weeks due to delays in upgrade works.
Campaigners say the beds could have been used for step-down patients leaving Letterkenny hospital which would have significantly reduced pressure on the emergency department.
“While of course there are many positive stories surrounding treatment at Letterkenny hospital, over the past weeks and months I have been approached by several families who did not share such a positive experience,” Mary T Sweeney said.
“This is mainly due to overcrowding and staff shortages. It can be difficult to comprehend the anxiety created by a poor health service if you or family members have not personally encountered this chaos.
“Also numerous stories have been conveyed to me regarding rising tension among hospital staff, fanned by what can only be described as burn out and exhaustion.
“Hearing such stories, we should all be concerned as to what happens to patients’ care when nursing staff are stretched to extremes. Obviously patients will suffer.
“I am asking all people from Donegal to make a firm commitment to come along on the day. Hail, rain, snow or shine, please bring your family and friends as we need a solid show of support for our much needed hospital and demand improved conditions for staff and patients.”
Ms Sweeney said the “disturbing” fact was that Ireland does not have an ample ratio of hospital beds, intensive care beds or medical staff to manage and treat the state’s increasing population.
“Our GPs in the community are really feeling the brunt of this and in many surgeries there is no room for new patients. In addition, patients are finding it difficult to see their GP, leaving sick people no option but to attend the emergency department in Letterkenny.”