Donegal TDs call for full account of crisis at Letterkenny University Hospital

Sinn Féin deputies blame long-term underfunding for the crisis

30 waiting for beds at Letterkenny University Hospital

Patients were treated in ambulances outside the hospital

Two Donegal TDs have requested a full account from the HSE of the events at Letterkenny University Hospital at the weekend which saw patients being treated in ambulances.

The hospital received funding for a further 11 beds on Sunday in order to respond to the demand which saw staff on leave present for duty

Seventy-nine confirmed Covid-19 cases were being treated at the hospital at 8pm on Sunday, an increase from 65 over 24 hours. 

Sinn Féin TDs Pádraig MacLochlainn and Pearse Doherty said in a joint statement that the situation at the hospital over the weekend should not have been allowed to occur and have blamed long-term underfunding for the crisis.

Deputy MacLochlainn said: “We recognise the unprecedented public health emergency that has emerged due to Covid-19 and the fact that 170 staff Letterkenny University Hospital are off-work due to Covid. It is a long established fact that the hospital has, historically, been underfunded. However, the situation over the weekend whereby patients were spending upwards of three hours in ambulances outside of the hospital should not have been allowed to occur.”

“The amazing frontline staff who made themselves available over the weekend to come in and work at the hospital must be applauded, many of them coming off leave to do so. But there is a genuine question to be asked as to why 11 beds were out-of-use in the hospital at this time?”

“Why did the hospital management not issue a public call for healthcare workers in the county to come forward and to make themselves available to staff these beds?”

“Why was the HSE Emergency Management Plan not implemented, as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has called for?”

“Why were there not contingency processes in place to ensure that there was a backup plan so that we didn’t have to reach a point whereby patients did not have to be treated in ambulances?”

“What happened was dangerous for patients, the paramedic crews and staff.”

“Pearse Doherty and I have written to the management of the hospital and the HSE today to ask these questions and we will be asking for a full account of what happened and why it was allowed to happen.”

“In the meantime, the Covid-19 situation in Donegal remains a real threat and we urge people to stay at home, stay safe and to follow public health advice.”

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