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Second Public Meeting of the Board of the West/North West Hospitals Group

Circa €10m to rebuild eleven key areas at Letterkenny General Hospital
The second public meeting of the Board of the West/North West Hospitals Group took place in Letterkenny today (Tuesday 17 September). This was the sixth meeting of the Board since the non-Executive Directors were appointed in January this year.
Mr Noel Daly, chairman of the Board, welcomed the three additional hospitals (Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny General Hospitals) to the expanded Group. He also welcomed all those attending the meeting, which was re-scheduled to Donegal after the recent flooding at Letterkenny General Hospital (LGH).
On July 26, after 57mm of rainfall in 15 minutes, floods wiped out 40% of the floor space of LGH, eliminating more than 70% of the hospital’s capacity. Areas affected included the Coronary Care Unit, Emergency Department, Radiology Department, Haematology Oncology Ward, Kitchen & Dining Facilities, Laboratory, Main Out-Patient Department, Cardiac Investigations ad Medical Records & Office Accommodation.
Updating the board meeting on the major rebuilding programme that is underway, Group Chief Executive, Mr Bill Maher stated that an indicative budget of circa €10m has been identified to rebuild eleven key areas, including the Gynaecology/Obstetrics Department, the kitchens, the Emergency Department, Radiology and Outpatients, Coronary Care / Haematology / Oncology / Echo Departments and Medical/Records/Medical Wards.                   
The design team has already been appointed and the scope of works identified. This has been carried out in parallel with the installation of temporary facilities such as the temporary ED and radiology departments.
Within a month of the flood the diversion arrangements effected by the Emergency Department were stood down. The re-build of Emergency Department will be completed around the end of the first quarter in 2014 with the overall re-building project finishing by autumn 2014.
“The flooding at Letterkenny General Hospital is regarded as the most significant disaster in the history of the state in the Acute Sector.  We will ensure that the new buildings are restored in line with current standards in patient care, resulting in improvements in a number of areas,” Mr Maher told the meeting.
The rebuilding works will include a new culvert costing approximately €250,000. A planning application has been submitted to Donegal County Council and it is expected that construction will start before year-end. The HSE and the West/North West Hospital Group is considering a report into the existing culvert and the flooding and it is expected that this will be published shortly.
Mr Seán Murphy, General Manager at Letterkenny General Hospital, told the meeting that they are hoping to resume virtually all services at the hospital in the coming weeks but that they expect that it will be some months before they return to pre-flood conditions. “Unfortunately, service capacity and flexibility will remain disrupted as we continue to rely on temporary and offsite facilities and in-patient and out-patient waiting list targets at both Letterkenny and Sligo will be adversely affected and plans are being developed to address this.”
Regular updates on services are being provided on and patients whose appointments are being rescheduled are being contacted directly to advise them of individual arrangements.
Mr Noel Daly, chairman of the Group, thanked the various bodies that had responded to the crisis including the emergency services, the army, local businesses, the Minister for Health and Department of Health and the HSE and the suppliers of the temporary facilities.
In particular he thanked the staff at Letterkenny Hospital and the local volunteers for their tremendous work and also the staff at Altnagelvin Hospital. “In addition, the solidarity of the new West/North West Group was demonstrated in the response to this crisis: for example, Sligo General provide emergency cover, Mayo General provided food and nursing staff from Roscommon, Portiuncula and University Hospital Galway temporarily transferred to Sligo.”
Mr Tony O’Brien, Director General of the Health Service Executive assured the board of the West/North West Group and the general public of the continued support of the HSE in prioritising the restoration of full services at Letterkenny General Hospital. “The hospital will be strengthened not just by new and better infrastructure but by being part of the West/North West Hospital Group, enabling it to contribute to better integrated patient services.”