Fianna Fail have urged the Government to guarantee maternity services at Letterkenny General Hospital will be proteced.

Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue and MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher have both raised concerns over what they said is  a “fresh threat” to maternity services in the North West.

MEP Gallagher said a confidential HSE report seen by Fianna Fáil threatens the closure of up to four obstetric units in the region – Sligo General, Letterkenny General, Portiuncula and Mayo General.

“This report confirms that the HSE and Minister for Health James Reilly are strongly considering a dramatic reduction of maternity services right across the West and North West,” said MEP Gallagher.

“All the scenarios under consideration would result in the closure of at least some obstetrician-led units in this region. This could include dramatically downgrading the maternity units at our regional hospitals to midwife-only units, or indeed closing some units altogether.   

“The result would be a centralisation of maternity services at just two hospitals across the West and North West. This is a vast geographical area and the removal of any maternity units will have a severe impact on expectant mothers. Many would be expected to travel for hours for just a regular check-up with an obstetrician. 

“While the value of midwives in antenatal and postnatal care cannot be overestimated, in the case of emergencies it is essential that all expectant mothers have quick and easy access to a consultant.”

Deputy McConalogue added: “I am calling on the new West / North West hospital group to ensure that maternity services at Letterkenny General Hospital are protected in full.

“Letterkenny is currently the third busiest of the five maternity units in the West / North West region, handling 1,872 births in 2012 and 1,768 births in 2013.  The hospital’s maternity unit, which is led by four consultants, has a strong safety record and an excellent reputation for its standard of care. 

“Maternity services in Letterkenny have been greatly enhanced in recent years with the building of a new delivery suite six years ago and the refurbishment of the neonatal unit last year. 

“Under no circumstances can we allow this service to be undermined in any way. I will be making it absolutely clear to the West/North West hospital group that there can be no question over the future of obstetric led maternity services in Letterkenny.”

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