Lifford Hospital to close this year ... Explain the U-turn, Minister!

Connie Duffy

Reporter:

Connie Duffy

Health Minister Dr James Reilly has been asked to come to Lifford to explain his U-turn on closing Lifford Community Hospital.

Health Minister Dr James Reilly has been asked to come to Lifford to explain his U-turn on closing Lifford Community Hospital.

Locals are still reeling as news filters through that the facility, which has formed the core of a 230-year-old unbroken medical service to the area, is to be closed this year.

A meeting of the Friends of Lifford Hospital committee was held at the hospital yesterday to draw up battle plans to fight the decision.

Spokesman Tony Maxwell told Donegal on Sunday, that they were “disgusted and disheartened” with the minister and the Fine Gael-Labour party in Donegal.

“We are not happy with what we’ve been told over the last year or so. The minister sat at a meeting in Lifford hospital and told us under no circumstances would the hospital be closed and cited the proximity to the border as one of the main reasons. We are angry and dismayed that none of his party colleagues here have been fighting our corner. We will be looking at all options now and we know the entire community is behind us in this.”

The Service Plan for HSE West, published last Friday, proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the hospital. It confirmed the intention to cease residential care at Lifford Community Hospital in 2012 but a statement added that other primary care and day services will continue as normal.

The statement added: “The provision of a safe and quality service is paramount to the HSE. The intention to close the unit was taken on the basis that the capacity to continue to deliver a safe service is not possible in view of the reducing financial allocation across all HSE services, continued reductions in staff numbers, and the difficulty in meeting future HIQA Standards, in particular the standard for physical environment.

It is understood that the Friends committee may be looking at legal avenues to stop the minister’s plan.