Letterkenny General offers a view of new hospital block

The new emergency department and medical block at Letterkenny General Hospital opens this week, while the hospital faces reports of further cuts in spending.

The new emergency department and medical block at Letterkenny General Hospital opens this week, while the hospital faces reports of further cuts in spending.

Hospital management took media on a tour of the new, €24 million block earlier this week. The emergency department is expected to move to the new facility on Thursday, Sept. 13th, with one of three new medical wards opening next Tuesday, another medical ward opening next Thursday, Sept. 20th, and the third medical ward opening in the new block on Tuesday, Sept. 25th.

Sean Murphy, general manager of Letterkenny General, said the new state-of-the-art block was designed to improve patient care while being as green and efficient as possible.

Hospital managers had been told there would be no funding available for additional staff for the new block, and last week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Services Industrial and Professional Technical Union (Siptu) and the Impact trade unions agreed to interim measures to facilitate the opening of the new building. In a controversial decision, the hospital also closed the gynaecology ward, to free up nurses who would be needed in the new block. Gynaecology services will continue to be provided at the hospital, administrators said.

About 40 people held a candlelight vigil outside the hospital carpark on Monday evening, in support of the hospital’s gynaecology ward.

Mr. Murphy said the unions’ agreement was “a reflection of the really good industrial relations we have”.

There were some bumps in the road to the new block since 2003, when then-Health Minister Micheal Martin announced the project. Construction was stalled when the original builders, McNamara Construction, went into receivership in November 2010, and recommenced in October 2011 with John Sisk and Sons.

See Thursday’s Donegal Democrat for more.