Thomas Pringle TD has called for funding to ensure that all beds stay open at Killybegs Community Hospital and further investment to meet the needs of an ageing population.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, he highlighted the fact that eight out of the 41 beds at the hospital, which provides respite and long-stay care for elderly patients, remain closed because of the HSE’s staff recruitment embargo.
“This means that many elderly patients are scattered around County Donegal, many of them 40 or 50 miles away from their homes in nursing home care because they cannot access a bed in their own communities,” he said.
Deputy Pringle continued:
“If we want the health services to work for the benefit of the community, we need to ensure that beds in community hospitals are kept operational. Staff should be allocated on a temporary basis to ensure that happens.”
Bed closures, he explained, have a domino effect. “This ties into the problems Letterkenny General Hospital is having because patients cannot move out of the general hospital into community hospitals where many beds have been closed because of staffing shortages and the ongoing embargo. That indicates the crisis we have in community hospitals.
Stating that the HSE has dropped €53 from its budget for services for older people, he called for substantial investment in this area.
“In the next ten years the number of people over 65 will double and in hospitals such as Killybegs Community Hospital we will need to double the number of beds - not closing beds because of an embargo.
“The health services need investment and increased funding as opposed to this constant mantra of more for less, which is absolute rubbish,” he concluded.