Meeting over hospital crisis

A process to find an end to the funding crisis at Letterkenny General Hospital has got under way with a meeting between the health minister and the hospital’s general manager.

A process to find an end to the funding crisis at Letterkenny General Hospital has got under way with a meeting between the health minister and the hospital’s general manager.

The general manager of Letterkenny General Hospital Sean Murphy and HSE Regional Manager John Hayes met with health minister James Reilly in Dublin yesterday in what has been described as the beginning of a process to solve the funding crisis at the hospital.

The Dublin meeting, which also involved Donegal North East TD Joe McHugh, comes a week after Mr. Murphy said he does not know if he will have funding to open the new emergency department.

Last year the hospital had an overspend in the region of €8 million and that has been carried over into this year’s budget.

Deputy McHugh said agreement was made for the minister and hospital management to meet again. He said the minister is open to suggestions to deal with the funding crisis.

“The real challenge for hospitals including Letterkenny General is trying to work within a reduced budget,” he said.

“The minister acknowledges the enormity of the challenge but he is open to suggestions. It is back on the table for Sean Murphy to put suggestions to the minister. The critical thing is protecting front line services and hold on to what we have got.” He said no decisions can be made until it is known what staff will be retiring .

The delayed €22m million emergency department is expected to be finished in the summer. But confusion has emerged over whether the unit will actually be able to open after it is complete. Mr. Murphy has said he does not know if he will have funding for the extra staff needed to operate the three-floor 72 bed medical unit and emergency department.