Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Tuesday) criticised the Government over the reduction in the number of Consultant Neurologists working across the Saolta University Healthcare Group over the last three years.

Deputy Doherty was reacting to figures which he requested from the HSE which reveal that the number of Whole-Time Equivalents (WTEs) Consultant Neurologists employed across the group has dropped by 15.5 per cent over the last three years, with the total number of consultants at Sligo hospital, which serves patients in Donegal, having halved during the same period.

The reduction represents the highest percentage fall of any single hospital across the state’s seven hospital groups.

Deputy Doherty said: “These figures which I’ve received from the HSE in relation to the number of Consultant Neurologist employed in our acute public hospitals clearly show that once again, patients here in the Northwest are discriminated against in terms of service provision.

“There are currently 39.6 Whole-Time Equivalent Consultant Neurologists employed by the HSE and working within our acute public hospitals, 5.5 of whom are working across the Saolta University Healthcare Group and based at both Galway and Sligo.

“While overall the total number of consultant employed by the HSE has increased since 2014, we see that the number of positions in the Saolta Group has actually been reduced during this period from 6.5 WTE in 2014, down to 5.5WTE this year – the highest percentage reduction out of all the seven hospital groupings in the state.

“More worryingly still however, is that the total number of Whole-Time Equivalents based in Sligo, which serves patients here from Donegal, has been cut from 2 full time posts three years ago, to 1.9 in 2015, to now having been cut further to just 1 full time position this year.

“This reduction means that we’ve witnessed the halving of the number of consultants employed at the hospital – the biggest percentage reduction of any single hospital in the state.

“No other Hospital group has experienced a cut equal to an entire full-time position, yet this is exactly what has happened within the Saolta Group which – unsurprisingly – has the worst waiting times in respect of those waiting for In-patient and Day-case Neurology treatment.

“These figures clearly show that patients here in the Northwest are being ignored, and this dramatic reduction in consultant numbers – at a time when patient waiting lists in the region are spiralling out of control – is an appalling indictment of this Government and indeed of those helping to prop it up.”

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