Don’t make a poor decision and close Lifford hospital

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Sir,

With increasing speculation about the future of Lifford Community Hospital it is important to raise again our concerns at the implications of possible closure.

Hospital services have been provided in Lifford since 1773. Over four separate centuries Lifford has been a key provider of local and regional medical services. It has been an important local source of employment and has been a proud part of Liffords heritage.

In the current climate we accept that these reasons alone are not enough to maintain its services. There are much more compelling reasons that Lifford should continue to be central to the provision of medical services in the region. Lifford Hospital provides high standards of care and this has been confirmed in a comprehensive manner in the recent HIQA Report on the hospital. The minister and department nationally, and management locally, tell us that the HIQA standards are essential in the maintenance of funds and services. It is ironic and wholly unjust that just as Lifford has received a high quality complementary report on its services, a decision on the closure of the hospital would be made.

The most compelling reason for maintaining Lifford Hospital is the strong evidence base for the role of community and district hospitals in the provision of health care. Studies elsewhere have shown that small local hospitals are cost efficient and effective. A decision made now to close the hospital in current (admittedly difficult) circumstances will almost certainly turn out to be a poor decision, made in haste, and adversely affecting the most vulnerable, ill and dependent.

As Medical Officers to the hospital we are committed to the maintenance and development of services based in Lifford hospital. Lifford has proven an extremely valuable resource for patients and their families and we ask for the commitment that it will continue to do so in the future. It is time to end uncertainty and maintain services.

Yours,

Dr Paul Armstrong, Dr Ciaran Kelly, Dr Martin Coyne,Dr Colette McGrory, Dr Marie Therese McKenna.