Children witnessing ‘trauma’ at LUH’s emergency department – claim

by Louise Doyle

CHILDREN are witnessing ‘trauma’ while attending the emergency department of Letterkenny University Hospital because of significant levels of overcrowding.

That was the stark concern aired this week at a meeting of Regional Health Forum West, when an update on the timeframe for the delivery of a new extension to increase capacity of the hospital’s emergency department was sought by Councillor Gerry McMonagle.


Proposed plans comprise the relocation of existing accommodation allowing the vacated space to be reconfigured to provide a separate Paediatric Treatment Zone and additional enclosed ED single treatment rooms.

The extension will be connected to the existing emergency department to ensure efficiencies in staffing cover and full access to the hospital’s existing diagnostic departments.

The project has been included in the HSE Capital Plan for 2024 as a new project with funding to be allocated for the procurement and engagement of a design team this year.

It is hoped the project will then progress through the scheme design and planning permission stages, with detailed design and tendering to follow in 2025.

Cllr McMonagle expressed his frustration at the pace of the extension delivery. He said patients in Donegal can not wait that long.

“I have raised this in the past about that added difficulty for children and what they’re experiencing when they are at the hospital, and the trauma that they see.

“We should be looking at a pathway for children, so I welcome the fact that that is going to be a part of the plan but unfortunately it is going to be 2025 if planning permission is granted and tenders are accepted before work would start on it.


“That is very worrying because that is almost two years before we even get that extension and new space. I don’t know if Letterkenny University Hospital can wait that long. Certainly, the people of Donegal can’t wait that long for an extension, and it needs a bit more than what is being proposed here to be honest.

“It (emergency department) is overcrowded on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, on any day that you go in there. You see that people are having to sit in amongst others who are very seriously ill from trauma and others who have infections. Covid hasn’t gone away.

“It is just not right the way patients in Donegal are being shoehorned into a small space, and it is certainly not fair on the staff who have to work in those conditions. While I welcome that there has been some movement and we are now looking to go to tender and get the design, depending on funding being allocated, I am a bit disappointed that it is going to take until 2025 until we might have that extension and that extra space.”

Responding, Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operations Officer, Saolta, said some work has already been carried out on the Paediatric pathway.

“In relation to the work that is being done, part of the configuration is an extension but the intention will be that the extension will be used to take out any of the non clinical services out of the existing ED footprint so that the creation of the additional patient cubicle or spaces would be within the existing ED footprint purely for patient flow and for the safe option.

“The first piece that has to happen is the design team has to be appointed and they have to design the extension and redesign the work within the ED and then it goes to a planning application and statutory applications, fire application and disabled access and then it goes to tender.

These are the steps that have to be taken for a capital project.

“We submitted this for approval last September/October so actually getting it on the plan for 2024 was really good and very positive. We need to keep it moving.”

Ms Cosgrove admitted that there is a “huge demand” on the hospital’s emergency department.

Cllr McMonagle said the every day reality is that patients are “queued up in hallways” while they wait for treatment.

“Doctors and nurses can’t find cubicles to put patients in any more and that is why they are put in corridors, in chairs, on trolleys. There needs to be a substantial redevelopment of that department.

“Of course it needs to have connectivity with services in the hospital but I feel that there is a lot of office space by the ED that could be relocated and that space could be used for people coming in to the emergency department.

“The hospital is doing all it can but that does not take away from the patients’ experience, which is long, arduous and, at times, very very painful for the length of time they are waiting.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland