Cullinane accuses HSE of ‘lack of vision’

BAD planning, a deficiency in investment and a lack of vision on the part of the HSE – that is how Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson has characterised the situation at Letterkenn hospital. David Cullinane was in Donegal on Friday, the latest leg on a fact finding tour of the State he is embarking on.

The Waterford TD met with SIPTU and FORSA trade union representatives before holding talks with Donegal Action for Cancer Care.
Discussions were also held with the Manager of Letterkenny University Hospital Sean Murphy and his staff before the delegation travelled on to Lifford where Mr Cullinane, accompanied by fellow party TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty, heard from the Friends of Lifford Hospital campaign group.

Mr Cullinane told the Donegal News he had concerns on a number of fronts about what he had heard and seen at Letterkenny hospital, including the “huge pressure” on the emergency department. A lack of capacity in primary community care, a GP shortage and an inability to recruit staff were all snowballing to make it a very difficult situation for Letterkenny, said the Sinn Féin TD.


He added that as things stand the unit is operating as a level four hospital – one categorised as having an ICU on site, a medical assessment unit which is open 24 hours every day of the year and an emergency department including a clinical decisions unit on site.

“The big thing I have learnt is you have a level three hospital effectively operating as a level four hospital,” said Mr Cullinane.
“Obviously level three hospitals are very important but if you talk to management in Letterkenny, they will tell you directly that it is a level four hospital.

“It all comes down to resources and then having a vision for the hospital. But the urgency isn’t there from Government.
“We had a winter plan from the Government announced last week in the middle of the winter, in the middle of the crisis. Last summer I produced a plan and gave it to the minister and said you need to start planning now.

“One of the things Letterkenny is looking for and waiting for, they are now saying it could take six months at best if they get approval and that is modular units which can come in and provide bed space, clinical space and out patient space.

“I am always asked what I would do and my response is always you have to look at what I would have done six months ago. And what I would have done six months ago is made sure the the winter plan was presented in the summer with the resources, because it takes time to recruit and build modular units.

“Now what I am hearing is that it will be at least six months before we see any of that and here we are in the throes of a crisis. It’s bad planning, a lack of investment, glacial development in terms of how long it takes decisions to be made and I think a lack of vision for the hospital from within the hospital group and from the HSE,” Mr Cullinane added.

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