Stephen Donnelly responds to Pádraig Mac Lochlainn’s claim of ‘serious crisis in diabetes care’ in Donegal

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People in Donegal are waiting two years for a diabetes appointment – four times the target of six months – with Sinn Féin T.D. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn branding the situation a ‘serious crisis in diabetes care’.

The Buncrana-based T.D. blamed the long waits on a shortage of endocrinologists in the county.

He raised the matter with the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in the Dáil this week.

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“The people of Donegal are sick and tired of the neglect of Letterkenny University Hospital. The Minister for Health met with representatives of the County Donegal branch of Diabetes Ireland when he was last up in the county.

Letterkenny University HospitalLetterkenny University Hospital
Letterkenny University Hospital

"He learned first-hand about the serious crisis in diabetes care. An adult is supposed to wait six months for an important appointment, but it is 24 months in County Donegal.

"Recently, not one but two consultant endocrinologists resigned from the hospital. Will the Minister personally intervene to deal with this latest crisis? Will he consider Letterkenny University Hospital, its absolute neglect and the second-class citizenship that people in County Donegal feel when it comes to going to our hospital?” he asked, during exchanges in Dáil Éireann this week.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly replied: “I thank the Deputy for the question. I have two points to make in response. I have had more than one person from County Donegal say this to me recently, and I have a suspicion, which is nothing to do with the Deputy at all, that a bit of a whispering campaign is going on concerning Letterkenny University Hospital. I do not know where this is coming from.”

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To this Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “These are facts, the hard facts.”

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The Minister responded by saying ‘then perhaps the Deputy is involved in the campaign’ but Deputy Mac Lochlainn replied, ‘I am happy to meet the Minister one-to-one to enlighten him, if he wishes’.

Deputy Donnelly went on to say that the Government was fully committed to investing in Letterkenny University Hospital.

“I want to be absolutely clear to everybody in County Donegal that this Government is investing in and growing Letterkenny University Hospital. For some reason, people are putting it about that Letterkenny University Hospital is being downgraded.

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"I want to be unequivocal in this regard, and the facts back this up. We are investing in and growing Letterkenny University Hospital and we are investing in hospital services and community services in County Donegal. I have personally opened several primary care centres in the county,” said the minister.

He acknowledged that there have been difficulties in recruiting specialist consultants in the Donegal area. However, he said he has discussed the situation with senior management at the Health Service Executive.

“Turning to the second point the Deputy raised, for which I thank him, Letterkenny University Hospital has struggled to hire consultants in certain specialties. I met with the Health Service Executive’s senior HR team just yesterday and we discussed Letterkenny University Hospital in particular. It has taken a targeted approach to recruitment in County Donegal.”