The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed plans to close 10 beds at Dungloe Community Hospital, three more than local concerns had suggested.
Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher had raised the issue, following concerns expressed by local people that seven beds in the facility were to be closed.
After the HSE confirmed the temporary closure plans, Cllr. Gallagher said, “The cuts are worse than were mooted over the past number of days.
“Ten beds closing is a huge blow to the area.”
An HSE spokesperson said that in the last four to six weeks, the unit had experienced an increase in long-term sick leave, staff retirements and planned maternity leave.
“The moratorium on recruitment in the public service has restricted our ability to replace these staff.
“However, discussions with senior management at a regional level to review staffing options are ongoing,” the spokesperson said in a statement released yesterday afternoon.
The HSE said that in order to maintain a safe level of care for patients, the HSE decided to temporarily reduce the number of beds by 10 short-stay or respite beds.
“To ensure that there is an adequate number of staff to safely meet all of the needs of the residents, this will be kept under constant review,” the HSE continued.
The HSE also said they wanted “to assure residents and their families that residents currently in the care of the hospital are receiving a safe and quality service”.
Cllr. Gallagher said the bed closures were clearly due to the government policy not to recruit staff.
“The HSE have not clarified how long they expect these measures to be in place, but if the recruitment embargo is not overcome, this measure could turn into long term,” she added.
“The people in west Donegal will not accept these cuts to our local services,” Cllr. Gallagher said.
She had raised the issue earlier this week, saying she had been contacted a number of times regarding reports that the HSE were proposing to close seven beds in the 35-bed hospital.
“Two years ago beds were closed in the hospital, and locals and staff were assured that there would be no more bed closures,” Cllr. Gallagher said.
“It is very sad to see such a fine facility, staffed by such dedicated individuals, being attacked in this way.”
In May of 2012, Dr James Reilly, minister for health, officially opened a new extension to the 35-bed Dungloe Community Hospital that included four single high-dependency rooms with en-suite facilities, a patients’ dayroom and other resources.