Carn hospital must be protected - deputy

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Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has insisted that Carndonagh Community Hospital provides a vital service in Inishowen and must be protected. His comments come amid growing fears in the local community about the future of the hospital.

Deputy McConalogue said, “I have been working on the issue of community hospitals since I was first elected. There is growing concern among the Inishowen community over the future of the local hospital in Carndonagh. The hospital has experienced a reduction of 19% in its budget over the past three years along with a reduction of five staff due to retirements alone in the past two years. This does not take into account staff who are off sick or on maternity leave and cannot be replaced due to the HSE moratorium on recruitment.

“The 2% VAT increase will put further pressure on the HSE, directly resulting in increased costs of approximately €50 million nationally. This is on top of €543 million worth of cuts announced in last month’s budget.

“The HSE has confirmed to me that the future capacity of the hospital will be 30 general beds and 12 beds in the Ard Aoibhinn Alzheimers Unit, which has a 16 bed capacity. With such a dramatic cut in funding over a three year period, frontline services have inevitably suffered. I am now seeking assurances from the Minister for Health that there will be no further cuts and that the future of the hospital will be secured.

“I am particularly concerned that the new alzheimer’s facility has already experienced a reduction in beds from 16 to 12 despite the fact that it only opened a few years ago.

“I am also worried by assertions that this is to do with lack of demand rather than a reduction in staffing. I believe that the demand is there for those beds.

“I am going to continue to fight to ensure that the services at Carndonagh Community Hospital are not only retained at the existing levels, but are reinstated in full.”