Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has hit out at Health Minister for allowing a situation to develop whereby patients in Donegal are receiving less than 24 hours’ notice to attend outpatient appointments in Dublin. Some patients claim that they’ve been told to take the appointment because they don’t know when another appointment will be made available.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “I have been contacted by a number of concerned constituents who have received a call to attend an outpatient appointment in Dublin with less than 24 hours’ notice. This type of policy is completely unacceptable. I have written to the Minister Leo Varadkar asking him to put a minimum notice protocol in place for patients at Letterkenny University Hospital to ensure that patients whose appointments are outsourced are given adequate time to make arrangements to attend their appointment.
“This situation has arisen as a result of the under-resourcing of Letterkenny University Hospital over the last five years. Fine Gael and Labour have presided over a serious deterioration of hospital services, not least here in Donegal. In fact, the number of planned elective procedures at Letterkenny University has been significantly scaled down in January and February.
“There are over 5,500 patients currently waiting six months or longer to be seen by a Consultant in Letterkenny University Hospital, a third of who have been waiting for over a year or more.
“Letterkenny University Hospital is currently referring hundreds of patients to Dublin for outpatient appointments with many of them getting less than 24 hours’ notice of an appointment. It is completely unreasonable to expect sick patients to travel hundreds of miles to attend an appointment at short notice, especially when that appointment could be provided at Letterkenny University Hospital if it was sufficiently resourced.
“Not only is it unacceptable to expect people to travel long distances at short notice, but it also places an added financial burden on families, especially if people have to stay in Dublin overnight, or if they have to make multiple journeys to complete treatment. There needs to be a procedure in place where families are given timely notice of their appointments and they should be able to receive financial assistance to help alleviate any additional financial costs”.