Split in SOS campaign confirmed

It’s been confirmed that the Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group Committee is no longer affiliated to the Save Our Services campaign, which the Stranorlar gruop was instrumental in forming last year.
The umbrella group formed after it emerged that plans for a new community hospital in Letterkenny was been seen as a replacement for some of the services being provided at the community hospitals in Stranorlar, Lifford and Ramelton.
The split became public last week when the umbrella group expressed satisfaction at the contents of an imminent HSE report, a stance rejected by the Chair of the St Joseph’s group, Fr John Joe Duffy.
In a statement, Fr John Joe Duffy says as of January 16th this year, the Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group has had no representation on the Save Our Services umbrella group, and the committee has had no interaction with the SOS umbrella group since then.
From that date, he says, they no longer represent the Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group, or the views that they hold and represent.
Referring to reports that the future of St Joseph’s and Ramelton Community Hospitals has been secured, and progress is being made on Lifford, Fr Duffy says the solution being offered does not meet the original demand of the campaign when it started last year.
He says the St Joseph’s Committee cannot agree with any interim solution, and demands a permanent long term solution that will see St Joseph’s guaranteed the same level of standards as the proposed new Letterkenny Community Hospital into 2030 and beyond.
Fr Duffy’s statement in full –
We, the Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group Committee have been mandated by the people and we will stick rigidly to that mandate. The first fact is that it is abundantly clear that no capital announcement has been made for the two hospitals. Secondly, the action plan for the three hospitals is not complete and it is not expected to be completed for another 6-8 weeks.  The third fact is that the plan is only being drafted and what is currently being proposed in the partially drafted plan will only bring the standards required up to 2018. It does not meet the long term requirements. And, we are all aware that the current HIQA standards are a derogation only which means they are not the full requirements which will be placed upon the hospitals in the post 2018 context, which will mean that additional works will be necessary to guarantee long stay beds/residential units. So the overall position regarding this plan that is being drafted is that it is only a basic interim measure that will only carry over the hospitals to 2018/19. The solution being offered does not meet the original demand of our campaign from 21st February 2016 as outlined in the press statement issued on that date, which is still the position and demands of the St Joseph’s Committee. The St Joseph’s Committee cannot agree any interim solution as this will be selling short the mandate given to us by the thousands of people who marched on the streets of Ballybofey/Stranorlar on Saturday 13th February 2016.
Our campaign is based on the goal and aim of securing long term beds/residential unit, short stay capacity, dementia unit and full restoration of all services, full restoration of staffing numbers and an absolute guarantee that long term bed capacity and dementia unit capacity will be guaranteed into 2030 and beyond.
The Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group Committee as of 16th January 2017, have had no representation on the Save Our Services umbrella group, and we have had no interaction with the SOS umbrella group and from that date, they have not and no longer represent Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group, St Joseph’s Hospital Stranorlar, or the views that we hold and represent.
Our Committee support any new hospital, including that at Letterkenny, but not at the expense of ours. It has to be additional capacity to our hospital. Our Hospital cannot be sold short and placed into a situation that an existing hospital twenty minutes from us will be on a different playing pitch to us. We must be treated equally with the new building and be given the same level of commitment so that St Joseph’s Hospital and all its services, including long term beds/residential unit and dementia unit be brought onto the same playing level as the new hospital building in Letterkenny. We must have certainty and guarantee that the standards at both hospitals will be equal post 2021. We require that level of commitment from government and the HSE. We, in St Joseph’s Committee, are looking at a permanent long term solution that will see our hospital with the same level of standards as the new building at Letterkenny into 2030 and beyond. We need this long term solution and if we were to look at anything shorter than that, at any temporary little arrangement or interim measure, we will be allowing ourselves to be hoodwinked and we would be walking our hospital into closure. The short term solutions being offered presently to the Save Our Services umbrella group will only be enough to get over the next hump, and does not guarantee a permanent and long term solution for our hospital. This was not the plan we signed up to at a packed meeting in Jackson’s Hotel on Saturday 13th February 2016 when we were mandated to seek a plan that would guarantee our hospitals for future generations.
Fr Duffy also includes the SOS statement issued in February 2016, which he references above, and says represents the views the Save Our St Joseph’s Hospital Action Group continues to hold –
Statement of 21st February 2016 to all media from SOS Save Our Services Executive Committee.
For the Care of others and society
The Save Our Services, Ramelton Lifford Stranorlar, Community
Hospitals, Action Group, met in emergency session on two separate
occasions during the weekend.
Firstly the Action Group wish to thank the people who came out to march and
those who attended both public meetings, who helped in so many
ways, those who have supported us through sponsorship and
assistance. Thanks to the people of this county who have challenged
the politicians in our campaign to keep our 3 hospitals open, with the
retention of the Residential Care Units and with full services that
are currently available.
The Action Group are annoyed and extremely disappointed at the recent
statement issued through Minster Joe Mc Hugh’s office regarding the
hospitals. The statement “is a complete empty formula and an insult to
the intelligence of the people who we represent”. The
announcement lacked substance and it is an attempt to mislead the
general public on what is both a very serious matter and one which is
so critical to so many families throughout this county. We on the
committee have unanimously decided – to publically question the content and 
motives of issuing such a statement and ask again that the political
decision made by Minister Lynch and her office on the 26th of January
be immediately reversed.
In light of recent political shenanigans, the Action Group again wish
to state  their requests for the three community hospital.
1- That the political decision made by Minister of State Kathleen
Lynch and the present Government be immediately reversed and that the
new decision be publically announced from that Department of Health
alone and not through an intermediary. 
2- That this current Government publically commit to a capital funding
plan for all three hospitals, in order to bring them up to current HIQA
standards, underpinning the long term bed capacity/Residential Care
Units and allied services in all three hospitals- namely Lifford Community Hospital,
Ramelton Community Hospital and St. Joseph’s Community Hospital,
Stranorlar, and that this capital plan be publically endorsed by the
Leader of the Government, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D.
3-  The Residential Care Unit/long term bed capacity of all three
hospitals is both endorsed by Minister Kathleen Lynch’s office (Dept
of Health) and Roinn An Taoisigh as government policy for all three
hospitals in Donegal. This to be issued in writing and be made known
The Action Group have doubled their resolve to fight this campaign to
a successful conclusion in light of recent public announcements.
Equally the huge ground swell of support our campaign is experiencing
from all citizens of this county makes us more determined to achieve our objectives. The committee
will neither be hood winked or politically bullied into submission or
silence by anyone, this campaign will continue until justice is delivered for
the people and communities that depend on these hospitals for the care
of their family members . The Action Group state that – “ these
hospitals – which for generations have cared for the most vulnerable,
sick, ill and most  dependent citizens of the state for care in our
society , these units have never failed in their duty of care for care
and dignity, which are the corner stones of all three hospitals”. We
are proud of the care given through our Community Hospitals and hold up
this as an example of best practice for the care and well being of our
elderly to the rest of Ireland.
No Government has the moral right or authority to destroy and undo the
services which entire communities depend on, nor has any government
the right to rule against the will of the people, the people and
communities of Ramelton, Lifford and St Joseph’s Hospitals Stranorlar
have spoken in their thousands, they have taken to the streets in
their thousands, and in their thousands they will stand shoulder to
shoulder until this political travesty is undone.  No Government, politician or
administrative authority should go unchallenged, when we the people
see this attack on rural Donegal as anything but wrong.  East and North
Donegal health services are being eroded and we as a committee and 
society will not stand by quietly and watch this demise.
 Our Committee has decided on the following action plan for the weeks ahead;
1. A petition will be circulated in the hospital catchments area for
Lifford, Ramelton and St Joseph’s Stranorlar. We ask the members of
the public for their continued support in signing the petition.
2. Posters have and will be erected highlighting the hospitals campaign and
save our services. We are asking voters in the forthcoming General
Election to remember that “their vote can be used to either save the
services or guarantee the closure of these facilities for our
community; all politicians have been given a fair and equal
opportunity to show their support and Solidarity for our campaign in
public. Those who have given written assurances, those who have
marched with us and those who have failed must be judged on the merits
of their actions.
3. The Action Group commits to meeting again this week and assures the
public that all information will be shared upon receipt of same by the
action group, “we serve no master other than the public good and the
welfare of the most vulnerable in society within our regions. Let us stand together in
the days ahead for the future generations so that they too can be
cared amongst us like the generation before us”.