There has been a cautious welcome to news that the short stay ward at Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) is due to open.

The HSE confirmed that the long awaited ward will open this week with a capacity of 10 beds. However, this is well short of the agreed 19 beds.  

In response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Deputy Charlie McConalogue, the HSE confirmed the opening of ten beds. The organisation said the remaining nine would be opened by the fourth quarter of 2019 pending Saolta funding.

Deputy McConalogue said: “This is good news for a hospital that has been dogged by patients waiting on trolleys in the emergency department. Any increase in capacity is a step in the right direction for our local hospital.

“This has been a long time coming with LUH first requesting funding for the short stay ward almost two years ago. Despite rising trolley numbers and repeated commitments from Government, we are only now seeing the first ten beds on the ward opening.

Questions

The Donegal TD said that questions needed to be asked as to why only 10 beds would open.

“Minister Joe McHugh stated prior to the budget that funding had been secured for the full commissioning of the 19 bed short stay ward but the latest reply from the HSE states that the opening of the further nine beds is ‘pending Saolta funding’.

“This raises serious concerns about the commitments and assurances that have been given regarding the opening of this ward. It is clear from the figures that are waiting on trolleys on a daily basis at LUH that the short stay ward must be operating at full capacity in order to relieve some of the pressure on our local hospital.

Deputy McConalogue said he would continue his representations on the matter of the remaining nine beds to the HSE and the Minister for Health.

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