Hospital group rejects HSE statement on future of community hospitals

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The Chair of the Save our Services committee Fr John Joe Duffy has described the HSE statement on the future of community hospitals in Donegal as “complete political shennanigans”.
Fr John Joe Duffy has reiterated the groups call for guarantees that all long term beds will be secured and funded into the future.
He says it is disappointing that an opportunity was lost to allay the fears and anxieties of so many people in the broader community.
The group meets in special session tonight.
The HSE statement issued last evening reads as follows –
HSE Chief Officer for North West Welcomes Major Investment for Donegal Public Nursing Homes
The HSE Chief Officer for the North West covering the five counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan and Cavan Mr John Hayes acknowledged the concerns that have emerged following proposals which may see the role of some community hospitals in Donegal changing in the coming years.
Mr Hayes stated that he believed “these concerns will be addressed and in five years time we will have increased bed capacity and secured the necessary HIQA registration for all community hospitals in Donegal which assures their future.”
The recently announced capital investment programme and emerging changes to standards which allows for registration of four bedded wards for long term nursing care will facilitate continued registration with HIQA.  In particular all patients in our community hospitals will continue to be cared for in those facilities.  Patients in long term care will not be moved to other units.
While the investment programme will not solve all issues it is very welcome and should be seen as the first phase of a major investment in community hospitals.  The investment programme over the next five years within Donegal provides:
1. A new 130 bed Community Nursing Unit/Hospital to include a dementia specific service. This will be in delivered via a public/private partnership on a site at Kilmacrennan Road near St Conals and Letterkenny University Hospital to be completed by 2021.  This will have significant benefits to LUH providing step down beds and long term care. This will represent an investment of €22.75M.
2. A replacement unit for the existing Sheil hospital and Rock Nursing home in Ballyshannon providing an 80 bed community hospital. This will represent an investment of €17.4M
3. Funding has also been provided to upgrade other facilities in the county as follows.·        Carndonagh Community Hospital €2.6M
·        Buncrana Community Nursing Unit €2.97M
·        Killybegs Community Hospital €440,000
·        Falcarragh Community Hospital €2.82 M
·        Dungloe Community Hospital €2.61M
The above represents an overall investment of €51.59 million by 2021.  When this first phase is complete further investment will be required to provide additional capacity to respond to the changing demographics in Donegal.  This is known and accepted.
The development of a community hospital/nursing unit in Letterkenny is particularly welcome.  It will provide capacity to cater for the increasing needs of community nursing beds and will integrate and support care needs with LUH.  
The HSE Donegal have agreed with HIQA that the 20 bed community hospital in Lifford which includes 3 long stay beds will continue to function as a short stay facility.
Ramelton Nursing Unit is registered with HIQA and will continue to function as normal.  The HSE is currently awaiting confirmation of registration of St Joseph’s Hospital in Stranorlar.  This is expected shortly.  
Mr Hayes added “In the long term we need to provide supports to maintain people at home for as long as possible in keeping with their wishes.  We have a duty to comply with HIQA residential care standards while maximising current capacity to ensure short term care and respite beds are protected and utilised to support rehabilitation. We will continue to seek funding and support for additional capacity until the new builds are complete.  Nevertheless an investment programme in excess of €50 million over the next five years is a significant achievement”.
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Fr Duffy’s Response in full –
If I were to welcome this statement from both the HSE and the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht, I would do a dis-service to the cause of Save Our Services at Lifford, Ramelton and St. Joseph’s Stranorlar, Community Hospitals. It would be untruthful of me to welcome this because there is nothing new, nothing concrete and there is nothing guaranteed in this statement. It is just complete political shenanigans.
In fact it confirms for Lifford the termination of long term residential care. It does nothing to allay the fears for St. Joseph’s Hospital, Stranorlar. And I seriously doubt that on a long term basis it guarantees any future for Ramelton Community Hospital.
I am disappointed that an opportunity was lost to allay the fears and anxieties of so many people in the broader community, to allay the fears of the decision announced on Jan., 26th by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.
What we seek is very simple and does not require a long winded statement. It is as follows.
1. A complete reversal of Minister Kathleen Lynch’s decision regarding the removal of the Residential Care Units at our 3 Hospitals.
2. An assurance that long-term stay capacity/ Residential Care Units remain in all 3 Hospitals and the future for them is secured.
3. A Capital plan is put in place for all 3 Hospitals to bring them to HIQA standards. This plan be implemented between 2016-2018.
Our Committee is holding an emergency meeting this evening.
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