Podiatry services withdrawn from north Inishowen
All Podiatry services in North Inishowen have been withdrawn by the Health Service Executive (HSE), Donegal Live can reveal.
In addition, the number of podiatry appointments available at the relocated clinic, in Buncrana Community Hospital, have been halved.
In a statement to Donegal Live, a spokesperson for the HSE confirmed the Podiatry clinics in Carndonagh Community Hospital and St Columbcille Village were initially suspended, in March 2020, due to Covid-19.
It said: “All podiatry services across County Donegal were centralised to Scally Place Primary Care Centre in Letterkenny, to ensure safe delivery of services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The location of podiatry services is being considered in the context of the clinical environment meeting the necessary infection control standards to deliver safe services.
“It is acknowledged, transport to Letterkenny may have caused difficulty to some members of the public, therefore, as part of the resumption of service plan, a location in each Healthcare Network was selected and clinical rooms upgraded to meet Infection Prevention and Control standards. (East Donegal is currently at consultation stage.)
“Buncrana Community Hospital was selected, due to location, clinical space and meeting infection control standards,” said the HSE.
The requisite building work for the relocated podiatry clinic at Buncrana Community Hospital was completed on Friday, January 15. The service commenced yesterday, Tuesday (January 25).
Confirming the new podiatry clinic was covid secure, the HSE said: “All Infection Prevention and Control standards have been met. There is no risk of integration with residents of the community hospital.
“Patients requiring Podiatry services will access the service through the normal referral process, by either GP or Public Health Nurse referral.
“Due to Covid-19 Infection Prevention and Control requirements, the number of clinic slots are reduced in capacity by 40 to 50%.”
In spite of the increased distance North Inishowen podiatry patients will now have to travel to their appointments, the HSE will not “pay travel costs for any patients accessing Podiatry services”.
Inishowen Cathaoirleach Councillor Albert Doherty (Sinn Féin) described the decision as “not a fair one”.
Cllr Doherty added: “Podiatry services were previously provided at Carndonagh Community Hospital and Clonmany's St Columbcille Centre. The audit of each podiatry clinic and the commencement of the services in Buncrana alone is not a fair one.
“Clonmany and Carndonagh clinics served the the north of the peninsula well and especially the clients at the St Columbcille Village and patients at Carndonagh Community Hospital and Ard Aoibhinn Dementia Unit.
“The requirement to travel to Buncrana Community Hospital and to organise personnel support, puts extreme and unnecessary pressure on families and health personnel .
“I have appealed to the head of service in primary care in Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) Area 1 for a reconsideration and restoration of services to Clonmany and Carndonagh. In addition, I will continue to raise this matter with the HSE,” said Cllr Doherty.
Cllr Doherty added that he did welcome the resumption of Podiatry services for Inishowen.
He said: “The healthcare service provision in a clean and safe location and environment that minimises the risk of transmitting a healthcare-associated infection is important.”