Letterkenny General Hospital: Update on flood defences

A recent aerial view of the Letterkenny General Hospital campus with the new A and E unit in the foreground (beside car park). Picture: Declan Doherty

A recent aerial view of the Letterkenny General Hospital campus with the new A and E unit in the foreground (beside car park). Picture: Declan Doherty

AN INTERIM report into flooding at Letterkenny General Hospital will be considered by the Letterkenny Hospital Rebuild Steering Group on Friday, September 26.

The current investigation commenced immediately after the flooding incident on Tuesday 5th of August , which resulted in the hospital’s emergency department having to go off call for three hours.


Indications are that the rainfall event on the 5th of August 2014 may have been more intense than the rainfall event on the 26th July 2013.

A special investigation team (see list below) has been established with the following terms of reference:

• To establish the sequence of events that resulted in the flooding on the evening of the 5th of August.
• To determine if the Flood Management Strategy was implemented in full on the 5th of August.
• To review and amend (if necessary) the Flood Management Strategy in light of the events of the 5th of August.
• To review the current and proposed (under construction) flood defence measures and to recommend additional works if deemed necessary.
• To carry out a Flood Risk Analysis and to recommend actions to mitigate the risks identified.
• To research and report on the planning and development history of the hospital campus particularly in relation to the siting of the various new hospital departments.

The investigation team identified as a matter of urgency what immediate remedial action needed to be taken to prevent a recurrence of the flooding problem. Protective measures that have been already put in place in response to the most recent incident include the creation of a drainage trench to intercept surface water run off from outside the hospital’s boundaries and the stationing of a vehicle with pumping facilities in the car park (at no charge to the hospital) whilst a suitable flood pump was procured: this pump procurement has now happened.

The Flood Risk Analysis will involve surveys of all storm water systems within and adjacent to the hospital campus.

The investigation team has been in contact with Donegal County Council, Errigal College, Department of Education and the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The Letterkenny Hospital Rebuild Steering Group expects to be in a position to publish the final results of the investigation at end October and the full report and all related documentation will be available to the public.

As there was minimal damage to the fabric of the hospital and no damage to equipment on August 5th, the principle costs of an estimated €300,000 – €400,000 relates to the response to the incident (drainage of flood water and clean up).

Arising from the flood on 26th of July 2013, there are already improved interim flood management arrangements in place within the grounds of Letterkenny General Hospital with additional CCTV monitoring and regular inspection of flows and levels in the stream. This also includes the location of a digger onsite and access on a 24-hour basis to a roster of drivers to provide rapid emergency response, as required by the hospital’s insurers. It would appear that on the 5th of August the Flood Management Strategy was implemented in full and the culvert was kept clear and other steps such as responses to flood alarms and sandbagging of vulnerable areas were put into place. The onsite digger played an important role in moving sandbags into place on the night of the recent flood.

Site works have commenced for the construction of a new storm flow routing pipe and associated works at Letterkenny General Hospital and are scheduled for completion shortly. The flood management works, including the new culvert, are estimated to cost approximately €1m.

A detailed flood management strategy (FMS) involving the culvert and buildings has been drawn up by West / North West Hospitals Group and HSE Estates and published, together with two engineering reports, on the West / North West Hospitals Group’s website. ( The flood management strategy is being reviewed in light of the findings of the current investigation and will be updated accordingly to take into account any new developments.

The membership of the Investigation Team consists of: Mr. John Browner, Assistant National Director Estates (Chair); Mr. Mike Bermingham, Estates Manager (North West); Mr. Michael Martin, Project Manager, Estates; Mr. Sean Murphy, General Manager, Letterkenny General Hospital; Ms, Sharon Moohan, Non-Executive Board Member, West/North West Hospitals Group; Mr. Tony Canavan, Chief Operating Officer, West/North West Hospitals Group; Mr. Peter Byrne*, Facilities Manager, Letterkenny General Hospital (*PB Co-opted on to the Group as Seán Murphy on leave for a period).

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