Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has vowed to fight against the closure of community hospital beds in the North East. Deputy McConalogue raised the issue with Minister for Health James Reilly and the Chief Executive of the HSE Cathal Magee during a meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee last week.
Speaking afterwards Deputy McConalogue said: “I questioned the Minister and the head of the HSE repeatedly about fears that they are planning to close a number of community hospital beds and nursing units across the country. I expressed my strong view that we need to protect these community health services for patients with long-term care needs. Neither Minister Reilly nor Cathal Magee would give me assurances in this regard. Instead they confirmed that they plan to close more beds in the coming year. However they refused to name specific locations.
“I will not stand for any further erosion of services in the community health services. Community hospitals and nursing homes provide vital services in rural areas, mainly to elderly people in need of long-term care.
“Carndonagh is an example of one such facility which was opened in 1957 and has been serving Inishowen since then. The HSE moratorium on recruitment has meant that beds have been closed due to falling staff numbers. The future capacity of Carndonagh Community Hospital is 42 beds. These beds must be protected at all costs, as must the services Buncrana Community Nursing Unit, Ramelton Community Hospital and Lifford Community Hospital.
“I will fight tooth and nail to stop any bed closures at these facilities in Donegal. Seeking efficiencies is one thing but removing front line services is a different matter entirely,” concluded Deputy McConalogue.