Members of Donegal Action of Cancer Care (DACC) met this week with Donegal Oireachtas members in what campaigner Betty Holmes called “a very open and frank meeting” on resources for Letterkenny General Hospital.
“There is no doubt they all sing off the same hymn sheet,” Mrs. Holmes said, adding that she was reassured by the cross-party support. “There was no one-upmanship, no ‘our party this, or our party that,’” she said. “It was all for the people of Donegal.
DACC met with Joe McHugh, Fine Gael TD; Sinn Féin deputies Pádraig MacLochlainn and Pearse Doherty; Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil TD; and Labour Sen. Jimmy Harte, with further support pledged by Fianna Fáil Sen. Brian Ó Domhnaill; Dinny McGinley, Fine Gael TD; and Thomas Pringle, independent TD.
Mrs. Holmes said it was vital for DACC that the county’s elected representatives were very clear in their support for Letterkenny General Hospital (LGH).
In a statement released on Tuesday, the DACC said that given the hospital’s severely reduced budgets, “DACC feel very strongly that without a very clear and loud message going to the government, LGH will be downgraded.”
Calling Letterkenny General among the top-performing hospitals in the country, the DACC statement said that while campaigners acknowledge the need for cuts in the present economic climate, “the experience has always been that services outside of the big hospitals in the cities, like LGH, are the ones that get identified for reform and cutbacks.
“We cannot let LGH and Donegal patients be the ones to suffer the impact again,” DACC said, adding that the hospital general manager and staff are doing their best in an intolerable situation.
Issues the health campaigners raised with elected representatives included the budget inequalities the hospital faces, staffing problems and delays in recruiting a full-time urologist. They also raised issues about theatre lists for Donegal patients at Galway University Hospital; and questioned where the money will come to run the new A&E unit at the hospital and how Donegal patients will access the new radiotherapy unit at Altnagelvin Hospital.
“These are the questions we’ve had from the very beginning,” Mrs. Holmes said.
While she said she was impressed with the politicians’ support, she said she would also be keeping track of their work: The campaign now receives email alerts from a web site to let them know whenever the politicians are speaking in the Dáil or the Seanad.