Donegal's community hospitals should be given a major upgrade as part of a new health service plan, a Donegal TD has said.
Junior Minister, Joe McHugh has confirmed that he has met Health Minister Simon Harris again seeking monies from a national capital fund to retain and enhance services in Ramelton, Stranorlar and Lifford.
He has asked for upgrades to take place – alongside a new 120-bed community hospital which will go ahead in Letterkenny.
An original HSE proposal was put forward which some people believed could have closed hospitals in Ramelton, Stranorlar and Lifford with beds being transferred to a brand new Letterkenny unit.
However Minister McHugh has confirmed that he has put a case to Minister Harris for the retention of all the units plus the building of the new Letterkenny Community Hospital.
“Extra capital funding nationally totaling €2.6 billion has been put forward for projects throughout the country and my immediate response was to lobby Minister Harris for funding for our community hospitals,” McHugh said.
“I have asked for funding for the community hospitals to upgrade them and bring them up to the required standard which will enhance them well into the future.
“I arranged for Minister Harris to meet the SOS group in Letterkenny in December so the Minister is well aware of the situation.
“I also want to make it clear that the new unit in Letterkenny will also still go ahead. It will be funded as part of a Public Private funding initiative but it will not be privatised as has been claimed. Once completed it will be run, staffed and managed by the HSE.
“I know a review is now underway looking at the latest information from the Central Statistics Office and I believe I have a good case for retention of services and expansion of services.
“Having met Minister Harris again at the new Radiotherapy Unit in Altnagelvin on Monday, I am confident that there is a very strong case indeed for community hospital upgrades, with additional beds coming on stream in Letterkenny.
“This is vital too for Letterkenny University Hospital, providing more step-down beds and helping to ease the burden there.”
McHugh added: “I want to again commend all the staff who work in our community hospital sector and I have made their retention a priority for the extra capital funding coming to Donegal later this year.
“My focus is retention, improvement and future-proofing of all services. I want to acknowledge once again the work on the ground by all those concerned with community hospitals in Donegal.”
Twin Towns Fine Gael Cllr Martin Harley said: “Minister McHugh has been working hard behind the scenes to secure the future of our community hospitals.
“I am delighted that he has prioritised them in his lobbying of Minister Harris and I am confident we will have more good news on this soon.”
Pictured above: Cllr Martin Harley at St Joseph's CH in Stranorlar.
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