Thousands of people across Donegal have signed petition calling for the reopening of the Short Stay Ward at Letterkenny University Hospital, according Sinn Fein Senator Padraig Mac Lochlainn.

Senator Mac Lochlainn said Minister for Health Simon Harris’s request that the HSE examine if there was any additional capacity in hospitals that could be utilised must now lead to the reopening of the 19-bed Short Stay Ward at the hospital.

He added: “For over two years now, Sinn Féin and other stakeholders, including the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), have been asking the Minister for Health to examine what beds had been closed in hospitals during the austerity years and to commit funding to reopen them.

“On countless occasions, we were rebuffed and told to wait on the publication of the bed capacity review. However, when the review was eventually published, it did not even fully examine where beds are closed and how many there are.

“Therefore, while we welcome the Minister’s announcement that he will ask the HSE to examine if there is any additional capacity in hospitals that can be utilised, this must now finally lead to the reopening of the Short Stay Ward.

“The management of Letterkenny Hospital have again applied for the necessary funding to reopen the ward and this time, there can be no excuses left.

“Over recent weeks, members of Donegal Sinn Féin have gathered thousands of signatures across Donegal for our petition, calling on the Government to recognise that on average, every single day last year, 19 Donegal people were on trolleys rather than in a ward bed at Letterkenny. That’s thousands of Donegal people being denied the treatment that they deserve in a medical emergency with many being also being denied their dignity and privacy at the hospital.”

Senator Mac Lochlainn concluded: “The spectacle of 19 people on trolleys every day while there is a 19 bed Short Stay Ward lying empty is a shameful indictment of the Government’s approach to our health service.”

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.