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Harney hiding behind HSE on Letterkenny Hospital beds crisis

9 November, 2005


1137 appointments at Letterkenny General Hospital had to be cancelled in the first half of 2005 due to the ongoing beds shortage at the Hospital.

Donegal Sinn Féin have said that An Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney is hiding behind the Health Services Executive (HSE) in relation to answering questions about the ongoing beds crisis at Letterkenny Hospital.

In a joint statement, Sinn Féin Councillors, Pádraig MacLochlainn, Pearse Doherty, Gerry McMonagle, and Tony McDaid accused the PD Minister of once again failing to demonstrate leadership and compassion towards the needs of the people of Donegal. They said: "She also failed miserably while Minister for Enterprise and Employment to tackle the jobs crisis in the county. Now she is in denial about the need for 70 extra beds at Letterkenny General Hospital. It is time that those elected representatives who share power with Ms Harney in this county made her sit up and listen".

They continued:

"We recently met with management and union representatives at Letterkenny General Hospital and were alarmed and dismayed at the conditions that they are forced to work under. The fact that Letterkenny Hospital manages to function at all under these pressures is down to the commitment and dedication of management and staff at the hospital. We want the public across Donegal to understand that when cancellations are taking place and when they are forced to wait for long periods in Accident and Emergency, it is because the Government has failed to provide the necessary funding for 70 extra beds at the hospital and no other reason. It is time that the excuses stopped and the action began".

"Following our visit, we asked our party spokesperson on health, Deputy Caoimghin O Caolain to put the following questions to Minister Mary Harney in the Dáil:

Is the Minister aware that 1137 appointments at Letterkenny General Hospital had to be cancelled in the first half of 2005 due to the ongoing beds shortage at the Hospital.?

Is the Minister aware that the average beds occupancy throughout 2005 in Letterkenny General Hospital has been 105% with patients at times on trolleys in the coffee dock of the hospital?

When will the Minister grant the management of Letterkenny General Hospital the 70 extra beds that they urgently require?

When will the Minister meet with the union representatives of the staff at Letterkenny General Hospital to discuss this crisis?

She responded by stating that the questions relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004.

We have to ask, Is Minister Harney now responsible for our health service or not? Does she need to ask permission to meet with union representatives at Letterkenny General Hospital? Does she know what being in a position of leadership entails?"

They concluded:

"How long are the elected representatives who share power with Ms Harney in this county going to tolerate this treatment? Mary Harney also failed miserably while Minister for Enterprise and Employment to tackle the jobs crisis in the county. Now she is in denial about the need for 70 extra beds at Letterkenny General Hospital and the need for the retention and enhancement of cancer care services in the county. It is time that those elected representatives who share power with Ms Harney in this county made her sit up and listen". ENDS

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