A group of Donegal mothers will meet next month with Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to discuss issues of paediatric care in the county.
Gina Grant and Mary Louise Crossan of Letterkenny, Ashling Nibbs of Trentagh, Brenda McGeehan of Fintown and Sharon Thompson of Moville will meet Minister Varadkar in Dublin on February 4th.
Gina Grant and Ashling Nibbs had spoken to Joe McHugh, Fine Gael TD and minister of state for the Gaeltacht, about issues of paediatric care at a November 2014 luncheon for Donegal Carer of the Year. They spoke with the minister of state about the difficulties Donegal parents can have in accessing care for their children.
For example, last week Mrs. Grant’s young son Francis had to be up at 4am for a 9am appointment at Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin. Mrs. Grant said that if parents had the option instead to travel to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry or even to Belfast for tests or other appointments, the journey would be easier on the children and their families.
She had asked Minister McHugh if he could organise a meeting to discuss access to cross-border medical services, among other issues, and last week learned from Minister McHugh that the meeting with Minister Varadkar had been organised.
“Gina has been quite a strong advocate for the group for a good number of years, and obviously has a lot of personal experience to bring to the table, and I think it’s important that voice is heard,” Minister McHugh said. “I think it’s important at all times for government to hear different perspectives, and certainly a regional perspective is very valuable.
“Gina and the people she represents have a unique perspective that needs to be heard,” he said.
The women will meet among themselves in advance to develop the issues they want to raise, but issues will largely involve paediatric care and access to care, rare diseases and the need for research, and hospice services.
“The things we require wouldn’t even be costly,” Mrs. Grant said. “They are small things that make a huge difference.”
“I think it’s a very positive move that he is willing to meet parents from Donegal who are campaigning for their children,” she said.
She asked parents of children with a rare disease, high medical or physical needs who would benefit from cross-border care, specialised hospice or respite service in Donegal to put their concerns in writing and she would give them to the minister. Parents can send on their thoughts in writing to Gina by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at Gina Grant, c/o Donegal Democrat, Larkin House, Oldtown Road, Letterkenny, County Donegal.