Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin TD for Donegal South West, this week in the Dáil is calling on Health Minister Leo Vardakar to allow for consultant clinics for children with rare diseases to take place in Letterkenny General Hospital.
Currently, children with rare conditions and serious illnesses are forced to travel to Dublin to be treated by a consultant.
“A number of parents of very young children with rare conditions and some very serious illnesses have expressed their concern about making the arduous journey to Dublin for treatment,” Deputy Doherty said. “Currently, sick children along with their parents have to leave Donegal from as early as 5am in order to make it to either Crumlin or Temple Street Children’s Hospital to arrive for early morning appointments with hospital consultants.”
He said he had spoken with Donegal parents, “who have described the unpleasant reality of travelling for maybe four or five hours to get to Dublin and having to comfort and care for their sick children, often stopping along the way because their child begins getting sick or are too unwell to travel such long distances”.
Deputy Doherty said Donegal parents who have spoken with Minister Varadkar on the issue have yet to hear of any further developments from their discussions.
“Therefore, this week I intend to raise this matter with the Health Minister in the Dáil as I feel that this is something which cannot be allowed to continue,” Deputy Doherty said. “These are children who are quite unwell and who have various conditions such as respiratory issues, chronic asthma, dietary problems, and neurological conditions and it is unfair to ask them and their families to make the trip to Dublin to avail of care.”
He said a cardiac consultant comes up to Letterkenny General Hospital to host his clinics for two days each year, allowing for children from Donegal to be treated locally.
“This is of course a much better approach than asking them to go further in order to be seen,” Deputy Doherty said. “When I highlight this issue with the Minister, I will ask him what was the outcome of these previous discussions and I will also ask him if he can now give an expected time frame as to when these clinics will commence.”