NEWS

Sinn Féin launches campaign to reopen short stay ward at Letterkenny University Hospital

Campaign to reopen LUH's 19 bed short-stay ward

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Deputy says the campaign needs massive public support

Letterkenny University Hospital

Donegal Sinn Féin has launched a campaign demanding the reopening of Letterkenny University Hospital’s nineteen bed short-stay ward.

The initiative, which was launched at the hospital by Senator Pádraig MacLochainn, Deputy Pearse Doherty and a number of local Sinn Féin Councillors, sees the roll out of a petition as well as a dedicated cross-platform media campaign calling on the Government to reopen the facility in a bid to alleviate the ongoing trolley crisis.

At the launch this morning, the party appealed to the public to get behind the initiative which it believes needs the support of the people of Donegal in order to achieve its objectives.

Speaking at this morning’s launch, Deputy Doherty said: "This is first and foremost a people’s campaign which needs buy in from the public if we are to be successful, and I have little doubt that the people of Donegal will rise to the occasion and answer that call.

“Last year, Letterkenny University Hospital experienced some of the highest levels of hospital overcrowding witnessed anywhere in the state. According to the INMO, 4,889 patients were forced to lie on trolleys and chairs at the hospital’s chaotic Emergency Department."

Deputy Doherty said that when the numbers are condensed that, on average, nineteen people were on trolleys every day in 2017. 

“While these statistics are of course horrifying, they are made all the more incomprehensible given the fact that only mere metres away the hospital’s 19 Bed Short Stay Ward remains closed. This means that there are 19 beds which, instead of being used to accommodate these sick patients waiting on trolleys, are laying empty – that’s simply unforgivable."

Deputy Doherty said that the Government has failed to act in relation to the situation. 

“Meanwhile, the hospital’s Emergency Department is in a constant state of chaos. Staff working there are over run as they struggle to cope with growing demand, and ultimately patients continue to needlessly suffer."

A petition is available online and the Sinn Féin party are urging the public to sign it. Party activists will also be present in the community gathering signatures on hard copies of the petition as well. 

“To compliment this project, we’ve also put together a powerful multi-media, cross-platform campaign to help raise awareness for what we are trying to achieve. The party has also produced a number of billboards and posters to help generate momentum behind this important campaign because it is our ultimate goal to have these beds reopened and to bring an end to the trolley crisis at LUH.”

Senator Pádraig MacLochlainn said: “As many people will know, I have been consistently raising the issue of the short-stay ward in the Seanad over many months now, yet the Government has decided to ignore Sinn Féin’s calls for the reopening of these beds.

“And while an application was made last year by management at the hospital to request additional funding of €1.8M for staff and works which is needed to have the ward reopened, there has been no commitment from Government to make these resources available.

Senator MacLochlainn said that the situation is having serious repercussions on other areas of the hospital as well with thousands of people on waiting lists at LUH for in-patient and out-patient procedures and surgeries. 

“However, the people of Donegal can see these evasions and this indifference clearly and they are demanding action now. That’s why my party colleagues and I are now inviting everyone from right across our county to take a stand and to please sign our petition because, by doing so, they are sending a clear message to Government that enough is enough," he said. 

He said that this is a campaign which the Sinn Féin party believe in one which he believes that the public will get behind.

“By working together we can help bring about an end to the trolley and overcrowding crisis at Letterkenny University Hospital and achieving this will truly represent a victory for the people,” he said.