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Staff cuts mean that new babies do not yet exist

DOZENS of babies that were born since the beginning of the year do not officially exist because their births cannot be registered.

Staff shortages, compounded by take-up of the early retirement scheme, have led to a delay in information on births being forwarded by Letterkenny General Hospital to the registrars' office.

The matter came to light yesterday, when one frustrated father in Co Donegal revealed how he had been trying unsuccessfully to register the birth of his grandchild who was born on January 7.

"It transpires that the person at Letterkenny General who does all the paperwork and sends it over to the registrar took early retirement and she hasn't been replaced," he said.

The man, whose daughter is a single parent who needs a birth certificate before she can claim State support, said that when he contacted the registrar he was told they had not received any registration details since January 1.

A statement from HSE West confirmed that some posts were currently unfilled at the hospital.

"Due to the number of people from Letterkenny General Hospital availing of the early retirement scheme in December 2010, arrangements have been put in place by hospital management to ensure that all critical, urgent work is continued in the interim and that priority posts have been identified for replacement," said the statement.

Impact spokesperson Ritchy Carrothers said the union had attempted to engage with the HSE about filling vacant posts but to date this had not happened.

"It is a situation which is unnecessary and isn't sustainable. It is time to try to transfer and identify resources in order to meet the needs of the county," he said.