An invitation has been proffered to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to visit the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk, with Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick keen to impress on him the need for the hospital to return to full service.
The invitation was made on Thursday afternoon when during a debate on the Health (General Practitioner Service and Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Bill 2020, Fitzpatrick moved matters to the Louth County Hospital, a subject he has brought on several occasions in recent times.
He urged Minister Donnelly to follow in his predecessors’ – Simon Harris TD – footsteps and visit the hospital on the Dublin Road. In 2018, then Minister Harris paid a visit to the Minor Injuries Unit at the hospital.
“Back in 2010 it was downgraded, which should never have happened. A great number of people travel daily from the Cooley Peninsula, Omeath and Lordship and pass the Louth County Hospital but cannot use its facilities. They have to go to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, which is another fantastic hospital but which is completely overstretched,” Deputy Fitzpatrick said.
“Our health system needs to be upgraded and looked after and I promise the Minister that when he comes, he will see the services we have and will see the potential we have for going further.”
Last month, prior to Minister Donnelly’s appointment, the three-term TD raised the matter with outgoing Minister Harris.
“The hospital has always had a tremendous reputation. Previous governments, in their wisdom, decided that it was appropriate to downgrade the hospital, which was a major mistake. We were told that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda was to be the main acute hospital in the north east, which was also a mistake.
“It is clear that the downgrading of Louth County Hospital was not only wrong, but has also cost lives. People in Dundalk and the surrounding areas are clear that Louth County Hospital must have its services reinstated. I have spoken at length on this topic during my term in Dáil Éireann. My strong and only belief is that we must reinstate all services at Louth County Hospital.
“While I am not going to scaremonger, how many lives could have been saved over the past decade if only we had a fully functioning hospital in Dundalk? The infrastructure is there, the staff are there and more importantly the population is there. During this Covid pandemic, Louth County Hospital has offered strong support to its counterpart in Drogheda, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
“While I welcome the support it gave, it is now time for the full services to be reinstated and for Louth County Hospital to stand alone. This is what the people of Louth and east Meath demand and it is the least they deserve.
The Deputy has previously warned that unless he is supported in bringing about the full reopening of services at the hospital, he would not support the government.
“Louth County Hospital has medical wards and plenty of space to expand. In recent months we have spent millions of euro to use the facilities of private hospitals. The buzzword is ICUs. Louth County Hospital is willing and able to step into the breach.”