Anger as floods hit hospital a year after €40m catastrophe
Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30
Emergency services were battling last night to contain a new flood at Letterkenny General Hospital, a year after €40m worth of damage was done there.
The alarm was raised just before 7pm as a massive thunder storm hit north Donegal, closing roads and causing widespread chaos.
A year ago flood waters poured in from a drain in the grounds of the hospital, but this time the water was sent cascading from overflowing drains on the main N56 road outside the site.
More than 40mm of rain fell in a 15-minute period, followed by several more heavy downpours which continued past 9pm.
Flood waters breached defences and entered a rear door close to the Emergency Department but it did not cause the same damage as the flood last July which cost €40M to repair.
The flood caused a 8km traffic tailback outside Letterkenny as gardai closed roads to allow fire crews and local contractors to pump water from the accident and emergency department car park.
Donegal County councillor Gerry McMonagle, who lives close to the hospital, called for an independent inquiry into the design plan of the new wing of the hospital which is built in a hollow.
A full investigation and report into the cause of last year's flooding is still being compiled by the HSE.
"This is a disgrace and someone has to be held accountable for it. We need a full public enquiry into the design of this building and why it was allowed to be built on this location," he said.
"The people of Donegal need answers. This is a disaster. We don't know how much damage has been caused at this stage but it is just a year since the last flood and there are now serious questions being asked."
Mr McMonagle also questioned if the HSE will be able to insure the building in future.
"The rebuild and refurbishment of this hospital cost €40m or thereabouts following the last flood. What company would insure this hospital in its current condition?" he asked.
The HSE said the floods had cut off access to the Emergency Department and requested that patients attend their GP or Sligo hospital in case of emergency.
The flash floods caused damage to homes across north Donegal last night with roads closed in Ramelton, Illistrin, Rathmullan, Stranorlar and Lifford.
The incident came a day after a crisis at Letterkenny hospital forced patients to travel up to three hours to have hospital treatment. Hospital management admitted that it had asked GP referrals and non-critical ambulance patients to go to Sligo Regional Hospital for treatment due to a lack of registrars and junior doctors on the Donegal campus.
Private ambulances were used to transfer some patients, with one elderly woman forced to travel almost three hours from Malin Head to Sligo.
"For a period of 7.5 hours on Monday the ambulance service was asked to bypass Letterkenny General Hospital and bring medically stable patients to Sligo Regional Hospital," said a HSE West spokeswoman.
"Medically unstable patients, walk-in patients, paediatric and orthopaedic patients were not affected," said the spokesperson.
Local GPs were also asked to refer medically stable patients to Sligo Regional Hospital from 9am Monday to 9am yesterday. The hospital had to take the measures "in the interests of patient safety as it was not possible to have the required level of NCHDs" in the hospital to cover the day shift on Monday.