Donegal election candidate says there could be a cross-border solution for Lifford Hospital

Martin Harley says Lifford Hospital could cater for people in Strabane

Lifford Hospital

Election candidate Martin Harley has suggested there could be a cross-border solution for Lifford Hospital

Fine Gael general election candidate Martin Harley has suggested there could be a cross-border solution for Lifford Hospital.

The Finn Valley-based county councillor said the future of the community hospitals, in general, is something he feels passionate about.

"We must not forget what the community hospitals give to the community. In fairness, some of them have seen investment in various parts of Donegal to date and we've been told there is a timeframe in which the next ones will be funded, but we must push for more."

He admitted while there was nothing in recent announcements for the Lifford Community Hospital, various options are being looked at but added perhaps it was time to look for an imaginative solution.

"The HSE has talked about different options such as a greenfield site. When Dr James O'Reilly, a former minister for health, visited here a number of years ago we talked about a cross-border solution here and maybe now with the Assembly up and running again, that is something we could look at," he said.

"We could have a community hospital in Lifford that could cater for the people of Strabane and district. Their nearest hospital is in Omagh so there's definitely a space that could be filled by both parties.I'm sure there would be enough goodwill in both governments to examine this very real proposal. "

Lifford Hospital is ideally placed to serve the communities on both sides of the border and such an operation would expand the great working relationship Donegal County Council already enjoys with City of Derry and Strabane District Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, he said.

Cllr Harley said they had to look beyond the current crisis in this sector too.

"We just can't be building buildings for the sake of it. We have to make sure there's a budget in place for staffing them as well. For example, there are sufficient grounds at St Joseph's in Stranorlar to add on to the current building.

"The addition of a village-style development on the hospital grounds could accommodate independent living units. Residents would be close enough so that their meals could come via the hospital and doctors and nursing facilities would also be at hand in case they were needed.

"Independent living units have already worked in places like Ballybofey where St Vincent De Paul has developed ten houses so it can be done. I'm sure there are other land options at other local hospitals and let's not forget there are many agencies within the State that could fund these projects too."

"If elected I would be pushing these proposals and I'm sure communities all over the county would welcome such moves," he said.

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