'Ongoing neglect and discrimination of Letterkenny University Hospital' - Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD

More than 19,000 people on Letterkenny University Hospital's waiting lists before the coronavirus crisis

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Friends of Letterkenny Hospital have raised €6 million

Letterkenny University Hospital is Donegal's major acute hospital and is the sixth largest in the State.

Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has alleged Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) has faced "ongoing neglect and discrimination".

LUH is Donegal's major acute hospital and is the sixth largest in the State.

According to Deputy Mac Lochlainn, LUH dealt with more than 24,000 inpatients last year.

He added: "One would not know it, however. LUH demonstrates the utter failure of Governments over the past decade to invest adequately in our health services and how that utter failure has led us to be uniquely exposed to this pandemic. We have the lowest number of ICU beds per capita in the European Union and there has been underinvestment in beds generally to the extent that we were at 100% capacity in our hospitals before this crisis.

"Letterkenny University Hospital dealt with over 24,000 inpatients last year. It is the sixth largest hospital in the State. If one looks at a list of the top 15 hospitals in terms of annual budgets, one will see that Letterkenny comes 13th. On a list of the top 15 hospitals ranked by budget allocated per inpatient, Letterkenny is again 13th in the State. On a list of the top 15 ranked by number of consultants, Letterkenny is 14th. It is 12th in the State with regard to numbers of nurses and midwives.

"It is clear that we have been neglected and discriminated against but it goes further than that. If one looks at the most recent waiting lists for outpatient and inpatient treatment available from the National Treatment Purchase Fund, one will see that we now have 21,789 people on these lists. The population of Donegal is 160,000. This means that more than one in eight of our men, women and children is on a hospital waiting list. Some 5,000 of these people have been waiting longer than 18 months for their hospital appointment. It is an absolute scandal.

"One might say this is a result of the Covid crisis but let us look at the figures from February, just before this crisis kicked in. The total number waiting for outpatient treatment at that stage was 17,751 and the number waiting for inpatient treatment was more than 2,000. More than 19,000 people were on the waiting lists before this crisis," said Mr Mac Lochlainn.

According to Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, in LUH, an average of 19 people were on trolleys every single day in recent years because it was at 100% of its capacity.

"That is the reality of the health service and the neglect of my county's major acute hospital. That is why we are uniquely exposed to this pandemic and why this budget is such a profound disappointment with regard to the number of ICU beds and other beds to be delivered next year in real terms. The number is nowhere big enough to respond adequately. The lessons that should have been learned from this crisis have not been learned".