Friday 2 December 2016

Elderly patients forced to make 480km round trip

Greg Harkin

Published 08/01/2016 | 02:30

Some elderly patients from Co Donegal are being forced to make 480km round trips to private hospitals in Dublin. (Stock photo)
Some elderly patients from Co Donegal are being forced to make 480km round trips to private hospitals in Dublin. (Stock photo)

Some elderly patients from Co Donegal are being forced to make 480km round trips to private hospitals in Dublin because of the lack of care facilities in their home county.

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Waiting lists at Letterkenny University Hospital are being cut as part of a drive by the hospital.

Patients waiting more than 15 months received letters from the hospital manager, Sean Murphy, before Christmas advising them that care was being out-sourced.

Most of the patients are being treated at a private hospital in Ballykelly, Co Derry. Others are being treated at both private and public hospitals in Dublin.

The move is affecting a "relatively small number" of patients, the Irish Independent understands.

GPs, however, have complained about elderly patients being transferred to Dublin, claiming some were given just two days' notice of appointments.

"Every effort is made to offer the patients an appointment at the hospital as close as possible to where they live," said a spokeswoman for the Saolta Hospital Group, of which the Letterkenny campus is part.

"However, in some specialties the nearest available capacity is in the major urban centres some distance away. In particular, Letterkenny University Hospital has had to source Respiratory Medicine, General Medicine and Orthopaedics in Dublin hospitals."

The spokeswoman said short notice in some cases was due to a desire to have patients seen and their suitability for treatment.

"Letterkenny University Hospital apologises for any stress caused to patients as a result of the period of notice," the spokeswoman added.

Irish Independent

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