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Rising population in Donegal increasing demand on hospital – warning

Letterkenny University Hospital chiefs have been urged to review staff and bed shortages to meet the growing demands in Donegal.

Cllr Gerry McMonagle urged Saolta to examine alternative ways to take the pressure off the emergency department, such as the establishment of a minor injuries clinic.

The Letterkenny area councillor told the Regional Health Forum West that Donegal has seen a population increase of 10,000 Ukrainian refugees and a further 3,000-4,000 people seeking international protection.

“The main problem is we have not got enough staff or beds to meet the demand of the growing population in Donegal.

“I know there has been brilliant work done in Letterkenny over this last decade but it’s not sufficient to meet the demand that we have and that demand is not going to diminish and if anything it’s going to get worse over the next couple of months.”

Cllr McMonagle cited the X-ray facility at the Errigal Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Hub on Kilmacrennan Road as an example of the existing infrastructure that treat patients outside the emergency department.

Cllr McMonagle said that local representatives are contacted regularly about overcrowding in LUH.

“We are getting phonecalls every day from people attending the emergency department, the long waits, sitting in chairs, a trolley if they are lucky,” he said.

For councillors, it is hard to take at times.

“This is happening nearly every day to us and it is unfair and particularly unfair to the patient, we need to be looking at other ways of taking the pressure off our emergency department.”

Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta University Health Care Group agreed that there is a capacity issue in the hospital and in the broader health services in Donegal.

Mr Canavan said: “I will strongly advocate that we need to continue to process of reform of our health service so that the reliance on Letterkenny University Hospital to provide care that could be provided if there were services available in the community that we move more in that direction.

“I feel there is more we can be doing for you as councillors so that you can understand what is happening in our hospitals and how different situations are being managed.”

The health forum was also told that Letterkenny University Hospital provides a minor injuries pathway seven days per week, which has proven to reduce patients’ wait times in the Emergency Department. The hospital recently received approval for two Candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioners for this pathway of care in the ED.