HSE responds after thousands march in Letterkenny

Following yesterday's march and rally in support of Letterkenny General Hospital coordinated by the "Save Donegal Health Services" committee, the HSE has issued a lengthy statement saying it intends to continue providing a first class health service in Letterkenny and Donegal, but muast live within its means.

The statement makes no reference to revised proposals for addressing the hospital's budget deficit, including closing 12 orthopedic beds, mothballing a theatre, and closing the hospital mortuary on Saturdays. The HSE also wants to drastically cut the hours of temporary staff, but that's currently before the Labour Relations Commission, and the issue may weel end up being decided by the Labour Court.

The full HSE statement reads as follows -

Based on current estimates the budget overspend for the HSE West Area is likely to be 90 million euro by end of the year if we do not take urgent action. Like every other public service organisation we have to live within the budget allocated for 2010. We have to take action now to protect Donegal health services in the long term.

The HSE would like to reassure the people of Letterkenny that it will continue to protect frontline services; in fact, a significant amount of investment has been given to enhance the services right throughout the area. In the last two years, there was significant amount of development in Donegal Health Services. In Letterkenny General Hospital these include:

• The ongoing construction of the new hospital block incorporating a new Emergency Department, Medical Assessment Unit and 72 acute medical beds, due for completion in the Spring 2011 at a cost of €22 million.
• The ongoing construction of a new Acute Mental Health Unit, due for completion in the Spring 2011 at a cost of €7.5 million.
• The designation of LGH as one of the approved centres for the provision of cancer services including symptomatic breast, colorectal, urology and colposcopy services.
• The designation of LGH as a regional Nephrology Centre.
• The ongoing development of Cardiology services including interventional cardiology.
• An enhancement of both medical and paediatric services by the appointment of additional consultants.
• The development of a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit on site recently launched by the Minister of Health & Children.
• The development of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner role on site in Oncology, heralded as one of the first in place in the country.

In 2009 the Hospital treated 25,000 Day Cases, 20,500 inpatient and over 80,000 outpatient appointments. In addition, the Hospital has a busy Emergency Department with over 30,000 attendances for the same year. The Hospital had a total of 2,200 births in 2009

In tandem with the developments at the Hospital, the HSE is also working on developing services in the community including:

• 18 Primary Care Teams (PCT) in Donegal - 8 PCTs are established and well advanced and further 10 PCTs planned in Phase 3 & 4. Phase 3 Teams proposed for Letterkenny and NW Donegal areas and Phase 4 will be located in Inishowen and SW Donegal areas. 25 new posts including Physiotherapists, Nurses, Social Workers, Speech and Language Therapists, Dieticians etc..have been recruited to facilitate the operation of the 8 established PCT's
• Aug 2009 - opening of new Short-term Residential Child Care Centre & Outreach Support Service "Mol an Oige" Letterkenny
• 2010 - opening of new Child and Adolescent Mental Health clinic in Donegal Town - appointment of 2nd Child and Adolescent Consultant for Donegal
• Development of the Palliative Home Care Nursing Service in Donegal
• Commencement of Diabetic Retinopathy Service
• Opening of new 16 bedded Ard Aoibhinn Alzheimer’s Unit, Carndonagh Community Hospital
• Opening of new X ray facility in Donegal Community Hospital
• Opening of new Health Centres Finntown and Cloghan
• Opening of new Primary Care Centre, Scally Place, Letterkenny

Recent new developments in Learning Disability Services include the following -

• Opening of 6 houses and 1 Day Centre at Ard Greinne, Stranorlar - facilitating the decampment from Sean O Hare Unit, St Josephs Hospital,
• New Community Group House open at Ballyduff Park, Lifford
• Ballytrim House Raphoe - Respite / Shared Care for Children
• Abbey Village, Kilmacrennan - 3 Community Group Homes and 14 semi-independent flats
• Eske House, Mountcharles - new Community Group Home

The challenge for all working in the health service is to deliver and enhance services by improving effectiveness and reducing costs, in an environment of reduced resources. Currently we are over our service plan targets and we have delivered more health care than we are funded to deliver; if we continue to do that we will have to make more drastic cuts towards the end of the year in order to remain within budget.

All services provided in the HSE West will be provided in a safe manner. No-one wants to introduce reductions in services but we are changing the way we work to enable us to manage within the funding available to us and to protect services in Donegal. To reduce our costs we are changing existing practices, for example revising rosters to eliminate overtime; reviewing temporary staff contracts; closing some wards and reducing theatre time.

We have to protect services as much as possible and live within our budget; we cannot spend money that we do not have.

Based on current estimates the budget overspend for the HSE West Area is likely to be 90 million euro by end of the year if we do not take urgent action. Like every other public service organisation we have to live within the budget allocated for 2010. We have to take action now to protect Donegal health services in the long term.

The HSE would like to reassure the people of Letterkenny that it will continue to protect frontline services; in fact, a significant amount of investment has been given to enhance the services right throughout the area. In the last two years, there was significant amount of development in Donegal Health Services. In Letterkenny General Hospital these include:

• The ongoing construction of the new hospital block incorporating a new Emergency Department, Medical Assessment Unit and 72 acute medical beds, due for completion in the Spring 2011 at a cost of €22 million.
• The ongoing construction of a new Acute Mental Health Unit, due for completion in the Spring 2011 at a cost of €7.5 million.
• The designation of LGH as one of the approved centres for the provision of cancer services including symptomatic breast, colorectal, urology and colposcopy services.
• The designation of LGH as a regional Nephrology Centre.
• The ongoing development of Cardiology services including interventional cardiology.
• An enhancement of both medical and paediatric services by the appointment of additional consultants.
• The development of a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit on site recently launched by the Minister of Health & Children.
• The development of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner role on site in Oncology, heralded as one of the first in place in the country.

In 2009 the Hospital treated 25,000 Day Cases, 20,500 inpatient and over 80,000 outpatient appointments. In addition, the Hospital has a busy Emergency Department with over 30,000 attendances for the same year. The Hospital had a total of 2,200 births in 2009

In tandem with the developments at the Hospital, the HSE is also working on developing services in the community including:

• 18 Primary Care Teams (PCT) in Donegal - 8 PCTs are established and well advanced and further 10 PCTs planned in Phase 3 & 4. Phase 3 Teams proposed for Letterkenny and NW Donegal areas and Phase 4 will be located in Inishowen and SW Donegal areas. 25 new posts including Physiotherapists, Nurses, Social Workers, Speech and Language Therapists, Dieticians etc..have been recruited to facilitate the operation of the 8 established PCT's
• Aug 2009 - opening of new Short-term Residential Child Care Centre & Outreach Support Service "Mol an Oige" Letterkenny
• 2010 - opening of new Child and Adolescent Mental Health clinic in Donegal Town - appointment of 2nd Child and Adolescent Consultant for Donegal
• Development of the Palliative Home Care Nursing Service in Donegal
• Commencement of Diabetic Retinopathy Service
• Opening of new 16 bedded Ard Aoibhinn Alzheimer’s Unit, Carndonagh Community Hospital
• Opening of new X ray facility in Donegal Community Hospital
• Opening of new Health Centres Finntown and Cloghan
• Opening of new Primary Care Centre, Scally Place, Letterkenny

Recent new developments in Learning Disability Services include the following -

• Opening of 6 houses and 1 Day Centre at Ard Greinne, Stranorlar - facilitating the decampment from Sean O Hare Unit, St Josephs Hospital,
• New Community Group House open at Ballyduff Park, Lifford
• Ballytrim House Raphoe - Respite / Shared Care for Children
• Abbey Village, Kilmacrennan - 3 Community Group Homes and 14 semi-independent flats
• Eske House, Mountcharles - new Community Group Home

The challenge for all working in the health service is to deliver and enhance services by improving effectiveness and reducing costs, in an environment of reduced resources. Currently we are over our service plan targets and we have delivered more health care than we are funded to deliver; if we continue to do that we will have to make more drastic cuts towards the end of the year in order to remain within budget.

All services provided in the HSE West will be provided in a safe manner. No-one wants to introduce reductions in services but we are changing the way we work to enable us to manage within the funding available to us and to protect services in Donegal. To reduce our costs we are changing existing practices, for example revising rosters to eliminate overtime; reviewing temporary staff contracts; closing some wards and reducing theatre time.

We have to protect services as much as possible and live within our budget; we cannot spend money that we do not have.