Key services at Letterkenny Hospital are under threat as a result of further budget cuts revealed in the HSE West Service Plan, according to Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue. The Fianna Fáil Deputy has said he is gravely concerned about the impact on patients of the cuts to Donegal health service this year.
“Letterkenny General Hospital spent approximately €105 million in 2011. This was an n €8 million overspend on their allocated budget,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“The HSE plan has now cut this budget to €92.7 million for 2012 – a reduction of €4.3 million on last year. The plan has been approved by the Minister for Health James Reilly and he has insisted that all hospitals must now come in on budget. This would mean a reduction in spending at Letterkenny General Hospital this year of over €12 million. Such a significant cut in one year is totally unacceptable and would put unbearable pressure on the hospital’s services.
“The policy that Minister Reilly and the HSE have chosen must be reconsidered. They are imposing sweeping cuts with no consideration of a hospital’s efficiency, quality of care or the impact on patients of reduced services. Letterkenny General Hospital has been rated among the top three hospitals in the country in terms of value for money and efficiency. When I raised this issue at the Oireachtas Health Committee with the Minister Reilly and the Chief Executive of the HSE Cathal McGee, they said Letterkenny will be forced to scale back services in order to reduce their budget. The approach is to simply cut headline budget figures for short term financial gain, without any regard for the impact on patient care.
“The progress in developing services at Letterkenny General Hospital over the years is now being put in danger by the decision to force a budget cut of almost 11% in one year. Pacemaker and defibrillator insertion services have already been suspended at the end of last year as a result of budget curtailments. Now patients have to travel to Dublin and Galway to get this service.
“There is no doubt that this budget reduction will lead to more services at Letterkenny being suspended or curtailed. It will make it difficult for the hospital to continue to attract the top medical professionals into the future.
“Health services are not a luxury and they must be protected. Minister James Reilly must get the message loud and clear that the people of Donegal will not stand over any downgrading of Letterkenny General Hospital,” said Deputy McConalogue.