Saturday 17 November 2018

Hospital drains neglected after cutbacks

Aine Bonner and Linda McGrory

CUTBACKS at Donegal County Council meant that gullies and drains outside Letterkenny General Hospital had not been cleaned or maintained for seven months.

The council previously hired the services of a Letterkenny-based company called DS Environmental to keep them clear of dirt and debris – but they stopped hiring their services due to a lack of funds.

As a result, debris and grass could be clearly seen blocking drains, leaving floodwaters with nowhere to go.

A council source admitted they finally cleared the gullies – the day after devastating floods caused millions of euro worth of damage at Letterkenny General Hospital, and described it as "too little, too late".

In a statement yesterday, Donegal County Council said: "The council have never cleaned gullies within the hospital grounds as they do not fall under our remit . . . following Friday's flooding at the hospital, and as part of the emergency response requested, Letterkenny roads section were on site at the hospital and provided sandbags and helped clean gullies within the hospital grounds.

"Given that the forecast was for more rain, the gullies on the R229 were checked on Saturday to establish that they were all in order, and all gullies were found to be in working order."

The A&E department at Letterkenny remained closed yesterday as the massive clean-up operation continued.

The coronary care unit was still not up and running either and the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny continued to carry out the hospital catering as the kitchen also had to be closed down due to the flood water, which was contaminated with sewerage.

A spokesman for DS Environmental confirmed that it had been "several months" since any maintenance work had been carried out on gullies or drains on behalf of Donegal County Council.

Meanwhile, Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry has received more than 100 extra patients from Co Donegal since Letterkenny General Hospital was evacuated due to the flooding.

Management at the hospital said it was happy to return the favour after Letterkenny Hospital had helped it out following a fire at Altnagelvin last year.

It said that the hospital was "busy but coping well".

Irish Independent

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