Action Day Protest at Letterkenny University Hospital on January 21

An Action Day Protest has been planned at Letterkenny University Hospital at 1pm on Saturday, January 21.

The protest is one of a number being organised across the country by Aontú in a National Day of Action.

Letterkenny campaigner and Donegal Aontú Rep Mary T. Sweeney urged everyone to attend

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She said: “Letterkenny Hospital services may not be your concern today, but what if your family need assistance tomorrow and what difficulties might you encounter trying to access those services?”

Letterkenny University Hospital

She added: “People across Donegal are genuinely anxious, and after hearing various reports of overcrowding and staff shortages emerging from our A&E department, now is the time for our local communities to stand up and express their alarm at these inhumane and soul-destroying conditions in our hospitals.”

Ms Sweeney, who is also the Chairperson of the organising committee behind the Action Day protest planned for Letterkenny University Hospital, said: “On behalf of The Donegal Hospital Campaign - Action Day, I am extending an open invitation to all interested parties, all political reps and all community activists to come along and show your support outside Letterkenny Hospital on Saturday, January 21 at 1pm.

“While of course there are many positive stories surrounding treatment at Letterkenny Hospital, over the past weeks and months I have been approached by several families who did not share such a positive experience. This is mainly due to overcrowding and staff shortages. It can be difficult to comprehend the anxiety created by a poor health service if you or family members have not personally encountered this chaos,” said the Aontú election candidate.

Ms Sweeney added: “The disturbing fact is that we don’t have the ample ratio of hospital beds, ICU beds or medical staff to manage and treat the increasing population.

An easier way to comprehend the extent of the deficit in capacity is to visualise that in 1981 there were 9.7 beds per 1000 people (that represents a town the size of Milford or Ramelton having access to nine beds across all Irish hospitals for the year). That has now fallen in 2021 to 2.2 beds per 1000 and continues to drop as our population expands.

"Today we have 30% too few doctors, 200 too few ICU beds and hospital beds have fallen by over 6000 since 2008.

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Ms Sweeney said the issue is having an impact elsewhere.

“Our GPs in the community are really feeling the brunt of this, and in many surgeries there is no more room for new patients. In addition, patients are finding it difficult to see their GP, thus putting additional pressure on the hospital as people have no option but to attend the A&E’ in Letterkenny,” said Ms Sweeney

She concluded: “I ask every person from within the hospital and outside to make a commitment to turn up with your family and friends and give the people of Donegal a loud voice to say enough is enough.”