Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has called on the Health Minister and the Saolta Hospital Group to immediately set a date for the reinstatement of rheumatology services at Letterkenny General Hospital.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The Saolta Hospital Group has been giving assurances since early 2011 that rheumatology services would be reinstated at Letterkenny General Hospital, however, 4 years later arthritis sufferers are still being forced to travel to Co. Leitrim for treatment.
“The Saolta 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. Management are clearly prioritising the Manorhamilton facility claiming that if the Letterkenny clinic is re-opened services at the Co. Leitrim unit will see its services reduced as consultants will have to travel between the two clinics. This is a completely unacceptable position and serves to highlight the fact that the needs of the patients in Donegal are not being considered. 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 disdain for people living outside the capital. This Dublin-based and Dublin-focused Health Minister seems content to allow patients from Donegal, suffering acute pain as a result of their condition, to make the gruelling journey to Manorhamilton rather than deliver on promises to re-instate the outreach clinic at Letterkenny. Not only are patients forced to endure extreme discomfort as a result of the journey between Letterkenny and Manorhamilton, they face a substantial financial burden to subsidise these regular trips to Our Lady’s Hospital.
“The HSE committed to re-instate the clinic once two consultants were in place at the hospital. The Government needs to follow-through on this promise. I am calling on Minister Leo Varadkar to intervene immediately and sort this situation out. Donegal patients cannot be expected to wait any longer for this essential service,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.