Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal North East Charlie McConalogue has called on the Health Minister and the North West Hospital Group to immediately set a date for the reinstatement of rheumatology services at Letterkenny General Hospital.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The North West Hospital Group has been giving assurances since early 2011 that rheumatology services would be reinstated at Letterkenny General Hospital, however, almost 4 years later arthritis sufferers are still being forced to travel to Co. Leitrim for treatment. In the first six months of this year more than 200 Donegal patients made the arduous journey to Our Lady’s Hospital in Manorhamilton to see a consultant.
“The North West Hospital Group has been dragging its heels on this important issue, and seems unwilling to allocate or re-direct doctors to staff an out-reach clinic at Letterkenny. This is a completely unacceptable position and just serves to highlight the fact that the needs of the patients in Donegal do not come before a staff rota issue at Sligo General Hospital. There are almost 300 rheumatology patients in Donegal, more than justifying an outreach clinic at Letterkenny.
“The lack of action in addressing this extremely serious situation further emphasises this Government’s disinterest and distain for people living outside the capital. This Dublin-based and Dublin-focused Health Minister seems content to force patients from Donegal, suffering acute pain as a result of their condition, to make the gruelling journey to Manorhamilton rather than re-instating the outreach clinic at Letterkenny. This is inappropriate and cruel; as well as causing great discomfort, patients face an additional financial cost to subsidise the regular trips to Our Lady’s Hospital.
“I am calling on Minister Varadkar to intervene immediately and sort this situation out. Donegal patients cannot be expected to wait any longer for this service”, concluded Deputy McConalogue.