Some more letters

                                                                        Donegal Action for Cancer Care    

                                                                         “Equal Access for Equal Need”

 Mr. Maurice Power,                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Group CEO,                                                                                               

Saolta University Health Care Group,                                                                                      

University Hospital Galway,                                                                                                                          

Newcastle Road,                                                                                            


15th May 2017

Re: NOT meeting DACC while at LUH on Friday 12th May!!!

DACC requesting urgent meeting at LUH with Saolta University Hospital Group & others.

Dear Maurice,

                      It is with very much upset & disappointment that we learn that you were able to meet Donegal Oireachtas Members at Letterkenny University Hospital on Friday past and not DACC!!!

We are very annoyed!!

Maurice after you taking the time at Altnagelvin Hospital on Tuesday to come over to Rose & I and update us on the position of recruiting a 2 nd Breast Surgeon for LUH, who it was going to be  and how this person would soon be in place. We really appreciated that. And when I asked you about the meeting you said “it would be best to wait till the 2nd Breast Surgeon was all finalised”.

Has the NCCP approved this position now? I know you said they had but is this certain?

And Maurice you never once mentioned a planned meeting with the Oireachtas Members at LUH  3 days later!! All this despite Minister Harris telling us on the 13th March that he would arrange a meeting for us all with Saolta University Health Care Group in the next couple of weeks!!!

So why were Donegal Action for Cancer Care excluded by Saolta Group from this meeting? Answer please.

DACC -we are intelligent, have working brains, do all our work voluntary & give our time 7 days a week with NO PAY, NO TRAVEL, NO PENSIONS!!Most of us have serious health issues.

We have worked free of any charge without any financial benefit of any kind for over 12 long years and we will continue to do!!!

As you are aware we had written to you by letter on the 2nd May requesting 

DACC requesting urgent meeting at LUH with Saolta University Hospital Group & others.

We also wrote to you by letter on the 5th May and in that letter we also referred to a date for the meeting.

So Mr. Power as CEO of Saolta University Health Care Group we are now again requesting a meeting with you all at Letterkenny University Hospital as a matter of urgency.

 For DACC there are many concerns the 2nd Breast Surgeon for LUH being one of them.

Indeed ye the Saolta Group have a list of some of those questions & concerns for a very long period of time. 

We expect a meeting date at LUH with the Saolta University Health Care Group & Mr Jerome Coffey NCCP very soon as agreed with Minister Harris.

It will not be necessary to wait for a Monday or Friday meeting date as the Donegal Oireachtas Members have had a meeting. They are still more than welcome at any meeting we are having with the Saolta Group.

We will work around any date & time but it really must be very soon.  We are available from 9am to 6pm daily.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely.                                                   

Betty Holmes                                                                                  

CC: Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris TD. Mr. Michael Conroy, Dept. of Health.

                                             Donegal Action for Cancer Care    

                                                                                    “Equal Access for Equal Need”                                                                                                                 

Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris TD,                                                         

 Dept. of Health,        

Hawkins House,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Hawkins Street,                                            

Dublin 2.                                                                                                                                                                                               

4th May 2017                                                                                 


  Re: VERY Urgent- 2 nd Breast Surgeon for LUH.

 Dear Minister Harris,

                             It is with much upset & disappointment that we note your response to Deputy Thomas Pringle yesterday re his Dail Question for Priority Answer.

To ask the Minister for Health if he will address the ongoing delays in the approval for the appointment of consultants at Letterkenny General Hospital including a second breast cancer surgeon and an endocrinologist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Thomas Pringle T.D.

With respect Minister Harris your answer re the 2nd Breast Surgeon is very upsetting and

we note no reference at all by you to the post of permanent 2nd Breast Surgeon.

Again with respect Minister Harris to say “Efforts are being made to recruit a full-time locum consultant surgeon to address current service demands.” Is not recruiting a full time permanent 2nd Breast Surgeon for LUH. A locum is a person who temporarily fulfils the duties of another not permanent.

DACC have been working tirelessly from 2014 re. the need for a 2nd permanent Breast Surgeon at Letterkenny University Hospital. Our first meeting after extensive work in securing it was on the 27th Feb. 2015. It is a disgrace that this very important urgent manner has not in effect moved forward!!

We again Minister ask you are the National Cancer Control Programme blocking this appointment?  With respect Minister Simon we need an answer please.

Also what is the Saolta University Hospital Group’s position on this post of 2nd Breast Surgeon for LUH?  Are they supporting this post?    

As per our letter to you Minister on the 18th April we again ask please:

  • Where is the position of 2nd Permanent Breast Surgeon Minister Simon at please?
  • With respect Minister Simon how many years does the process take?
  • This was first formally announced in Jan 2016 so where is the recruitment process at?
  • Has the post been advertised & where? If not Why Not?
  • Can we get a copy of the ad for the 2nd Breast Surgeon please?

Minister to say that “The National Cancer Control Programme, my Department and the Saolta Group are actively engaged in ensuring that quality breast cancer services are available. Consideration continues to be given to longer-term measures to meet the future service requirements, including consultant and other staffing.”

How many years of consideration does it take? How many patients are getting cancer while this “consideration” takes place? How “actively engaging” are you all?

Has everyone forgotten again the geographical position of Donegal?

Does anyone care?

With waiting lists for appointments to the Breast Unit at LUH in hundreds we don’t think there is much engagement where the needs of the patients are the priority.

It appears to us that this again is Medical Politics at work!!!

We have always said there are “Political, Medical & Professional politics and we aren’t sure which is the worst.  

What we see with respect Minister is the announcement & commitment by the previous Minister for Health (Jan 2016) is now being withdrawn or blocked! Is this the case?

As before it is hard to believe that we are not being taking for “ejjets”

We may be voluntary & unpaid but not stupid no disrespect to you Minister Simon or the hardworking team at the Dept. of Health.    

Thank you.

Very upset.

Yours sincerely,                                                                  

Betty Holmes                                                               

                                    Donegal Action for Cancer Care    

                                                                        “Equal Access for Equal Need”


To Minister Mc Hugh TD, Donegal TD’s Deputy Doherty TD, Deputy Mc Conalogue TD,                                                                                    Deputy Pringle TD, Deputy Gallagher TD,  Senator Mac Lochlainn.                                                                                             

13TH April 2017                                                                                         

Re: The Future of Breast Cancer Services at LUH 

Dear Minister Joe, Deputies Pearse, Charlie, Thomas, Pat & Senator Padraig,

  If DACC do not have a date for a follow up meeting at LUH by Tuesday 28th April we are asking to meet with you all together that Friday 5th May or Monday 8th May please. We will meet in Letterkenny if that suits or wherever.

It is vital that we all sit down together and work together each clearly within our own role to do what we can to save our Breast Cancer and other cancer services at Letterkenny Hospital.

As you know DACC strongly believe that the National Cancer Control Programme are blocking this recruitment post of a 2nd Breast Surgeon.

We have seen nothing over the last 3-4 years that would convince us there is commitment to the Breast Services at LUH.

We always remember clearly how Mr Tom Keane the then Director of the NCCP told us back years ago “ Be in no doubt if I had been here there would never have been Breast Cancer Services at Letterkenny Hospital” quote Tom Keane. Tom Keane repeatedly told us this.

Indeed every opportunity he got.

If we do not work at this together then the Breast Cancer Services will be gone!! There is no doubt about it. 

When we met Minister Harris at the Dept. of Health on the 13th March there was going to be a 2nd Breast Surgeon!!!

As you all know we in DACC are totally voluntary, have & continue to work extremely hard for the good of Donegal cancer & health services for 12 years.

Thank you,

Betty Holmes DACC

                                                                        Donegal Action for Cancer Care    

                                                                       “Equal Access for Equal Need”

 Minister for Health, Ms. Michelle O’ Neill MLA,                                                                                                                                                     Dept. of Health,  DOH Private Office, Room C5. 10,                                                                                                                                              Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast. BT4 3SQ                                                                                                                                

13th Feb. 2017                                                                                                                                                                                                       Re: Further development of Cross Border Health Services now at Letterkenny University Hospital & meeting request.

Dear Minister O’ Neill MLA,

                                   Today Minister you jointly with Health Minister Simon Harris TD visit the new Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital.

It is now time to ask you both to put on your agenda’s the further development of Cross Border Health Services this time at Letterkenny University Hospital please. We are also asking this of Minister Harris.

With the Cross Border development at Altnagelvin of not only the new Radiotherapy Unit but also the development of the Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (Ppc1)  reflecting a major financial investment by the Irish Government.

We are asking you please Minister O’ Neill to look at the development of Cross Border Health Services at Letterkenny University Hospital  Minister

Cross Border should not ALWAYS be one way.. out of Donegal every time! 

Nor should it be that people in the 6 Counties can’t travel across the border to Donegal  to access  Health Services!

Within your document Health & Wellbeing 2026 Delivering Together you make many references to working in partnership & how we need to rethink how we deliver our health and social care service.

Letterkenny University Hospital has many excellent services and has been a leader in much of it’s work over many years.

Minister make Cross Border real, a two way process.  As before the Irish Government has made major investments into health services at Alnagelvin which do benefit Donegal patients, LUH can develop it’s present services or a new service to benefit patients from the six counties with investment from Northern Irelands Government…True Cross Border Partnerships!

Radiotherapy for Donegal cancer patients was an aim of DACC way back when we started in April 2005. While our first preference was at Letterkenny Hospital we are delighted that it is at Altnagelvin Hospital and have been actively involved in the process. The needs of the patient must always come first.

 It is great to be attending the new Radiotherapy Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital today as part of a Joint Ministerial visit.

We are meeting Minister Harris next week so we will be discussing this further then.

We would welcome a meeting with you also Minister to discuss this further, perhaps in coming months when we hope that both you Minister & Minister Harris will have started the process of discussing the possibilities.

Thank you Minister O’ Neill, we really hope that you & Minister Harris will start the discussion process very soon regarding our request.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,                                                                  

Betty Holmes   


DACC letters to both Health Ministers at Altnagelvin in March

"" <>,
Pearse Doherty <>,
Thomas Pringle <>,
Charlie McConalogue <>,
PatTheCope Gallagher <>,
P√°draig MacLochlainn <>


10 May 2017 at 08:40

Dear Minister & Donegal Oireachtas Members,
For your information for your upcoming meeting at LUH.
Both letters given to both Health Ministers when at Altnagelvin in March.
Minister Harris gave his committmment to further development of Cross Border at LUH that day and indeed since.
Ye all have a copy of some of our ongoing concerns.
Hopefully we will get an update from ye on how the meeting went.
Betty Holmes DACC

Your meeting today at LUH with Saolta

12 May

Hello  Donegal Oireachtas Members,
I know it's a Friday evening but for us in DACC it never stops.
Just wondering how your meeting with the Saolta University Health Care Group today went and what if any¬  news re cancer services.
As you know this meeting today should have included us all..... ¬ 
Thank you,
Betty Holmes DACC

Donegal Action for Cancer Care Press release. 20th Feb 2015

DACC welcome the Minister for Health’s support for Letterkenny Breast Unit.

DACC are delighted that Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD has taken their request for a meeting & indeed there serious concerns on board.

DACC have repeatedly been in contact with the Minister regarding their ongoing concerns regarding the future of Breast Cancer Services for Donegal patients at Letterkenny Hospital.

DACC have had conformation from his office  that the Minister for Health has now arranged for his staff to hold a meeting with key parties, the Dept of Health, The HSE, The Cancer  Control Programme, The Saolta University Hospital Group and Letterkenny Hospital next Friday 27th Feb in Dublin. Further to this meeting DACC representatives will then meet with the Dept of Health for an update from this meeting. “This is good news for us in DACC, we have been working away tirelessly to keep the issue of cancer services for Donegal patients on National agendas.  It has been a long few weeks but we would have to acknowledge the support of the Minister when he contacted us last Wednesday evening and also the communication from & with his staff” said Betty Holmes DACC.

“We are hopeful that further to next Fridays meeting in Dublin that a solution can be found where Breast Cancer patients will not be in effect forced to travel to Galway when they can be seen at Letterkenny General Hospital. We remind people that it is 308 KM from Malin Town to Galway University Hospital for a service that is & should be available at Letterkenny Hospital. Why take patient’s down this long road when a consultant can travel to the hospital in Letterkenny, it just doesn’t make sense and is not in the best interest of the patients. Again we are asking why we can’t have a second Breast Surgeon at Letterkenny Hospital” Despite our concerns we are very thankful to the Minister for Health for arranging this meeting.               



Dear Folks at the newsroom,

Really need your help as  not sure the message is getting out there.

Thank you so much,

Betty Holmes DACC

DACC concerns at Centralisation of referral process for LGH Symptomatic Breast Service
19th Feb 2015

Donegal Action for Cancer Care wish teh people of Donegal to know that they  continue to have serious concerns for the Breast Service at Letterkenny  Hospital.

A meeting is taking  place this morning in Galway  to plan the centralisation of teh referral process for the Symptomatic Breast Service for Letterkenny.

DACC  continue to have very serious fears regarding the future of the Breast  Unit and have yet to be told what the long term plan is.

                                                                     Donegal Action for Cancer Care                                                            

Press release re after meeting with Mr. Tony Canavan Chief Operating Officer Saolta University Health Care Group & Mr. Sean Murphy Letterkenny Hospital today Monday 9th Feb 2015.

Donegal Action for Cancer Care feel that today’s meeting was a positive one and welcome confirmation again that the Breast Unit at Letterkenny Hospital is secure. Mr. Canavan confirmed as did Mr Tony O’ Brien Director General HSE in his letter to DACC that the unit was secure and that the long term plan includes LGH. The plan is not at the discretion of the Saolta University Hospital group but the National Cancer Control Programme.

Regarding the short & medium term the Locum Breast Surgeon is in place and will be there again on the 19th, 20th & 21st Feb. This Locum position will not become long term.

Mr. Canavan shared his serious concern with DACC that were still 200 patients not seen in the backlog who would be outside the 12 week waiting time and that needs to be addressed.

Other issues discussed range from the long waiting lists referred back to Letterkenny Hospital, prostate services, recruitment embargo, budget shortfalls & Radiotherapy.  Both Mr Canavan & Mr Murphy reassured DACC that the recruitment embargo was not hindering the recruitment of additional staff such as the Advanced Nurse Practitioner or Radiologists for the Breast service. Having approval to recruit additional staff it was proving difficult to have qualified people apply.

Over all DACC took some reassurance from the meeting and will now keep in touch with Mr. Canavan. DACC have also written to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD so they can be involved in the working group regarding the development of the new strategy for cancer care in Ireland.     

The primary aim of DACC is to ensure the people of Donegal have access to world- class cancer services whilst ensuring the retention and development of all cancer services at
Letterkenny General Hospital.

DACC will continue to work very hard in our voluntary capacity; we will keep a tight eye on the long term plan when it is complete & other issues concerning services for Donegal cancer patients & their families!

Donegal Action for Cancer Care

Press release re meeting with Mr. Tony Canavan Chief Operating Saolta University Health Care Group & Mr. Sean Murphy Letterkenny Hospital tomorrow Monday 9th Jan 2015.

DACC  have a very important meeting arranged at the Letterkenny General  Hospital for tomorrow Monday which was arranged on the 29th Jan. The meeting is with Mr. Tony Canavan Chief Operating Saolta University Health Care Group & Mr. Sean Murphy Letterkenny Hospital. DACC will discuss & indeed want answers to the many questions they have had over a long period of time that we have not got answers too or indeed meetings about.

This meeting follows after DACC wrote 2 letters in a week in January to all 6 TD's, The Director General of the HSE, the National Director of the Cancer Control Programme, The CEO of the Saolta Hospitals Group, also the new CEO Dublin/North East Hospital Group who was the CEO of the Saolta Group when we met with him at LGH on the 31st Oct. This was regarding our very immediate concerns regarding the future of the Breast Unit at Letterkenny Hospital. We are aware of the immediate & short term plan for the service but what DACC wants to know is the long term plan which we believe does not include maintaining the service at Letterkenny Hospital.   

We also wrote to Minister Varadkar on the 28th Jan at the time we wrote/ sent the other letters with our serious concerns.......we also wrote by email to Chairperson of the Regional Health Forum Committee on the 29th Jan & the 2nd Feb again raising our serious concerns and also asking for a meeting. This meeting is next Friday after our meeting at the hospital with Mr Tony Canavan Chief Operating Saolta University Health Care Group & Mr. Sean Murphy Letterkenny Hospital.

The primary aim of DACC is to ensure the people of Donegal have access to world- class cancer services whilst ensuring the retention and development of all cancer services at
Letterkenny General Hospital.

DACC have not gone away nor do we intend too, we will continue to work very hard in our voluntary capacity for the good of Donegal cancer patents & their families!

                                                                Donegal Action for Cancer Care

                                                               “Equal Access for Equal Need”

                                                                      074 91 28400

Minister James O’ Reilly,

Minister for Health,                                                                               

 Dept. of Health,                                                                                                                                         

Hawkins House,                                                                                                                                                                            

Dublin 2                                                                                                           

22nd March 2013                                                                                    

Re: DACC no meeting with you at Letterkenny General Hospital.

Dear Minister O’ Reilly,

                                      We in DACC pride ourselves in working within an Ethos of Respect since we were formed in March 2005. We are all voluntary for the good of our community.

On days like today we find it difficult to maintain that Ethos but in the best interest of Donegal cancer patients & indeed sick people we will maintain our good practice.

We have requested many meetings with you but to no avail.

We made a written request for a meeting with you while at LGH today on the 14TH March.

Deputy Mc Hugh also made this request on our behalf.

We again followed this up with another written request on 20th March.

Yesterday we followed this up with a telephone call to your office Minister where we were told that someone in charge of your diary would phone me back. I waited all day.

This didn’t happen.   

We also had made a meeting request for last September when the official opening was to have happened.

In these crazy times of major cuts to health services which affect our hospital LGH and indeed Donegal patients having difficulties accessing services at other hospitals, it is very concerning that you the Minister for Health just doesn’t have the time or interest in what our concerns are.

You Minister, it would appear, don’t want to listen or hear. That is even more concerning.

The impact on vital health services as a direct result of budget shortfalls & the recruitment embargo at Letterkenny General Hospital, we feel must be discussed with you please.

We cannot accept that cuts & loss of key health services for the people of Donegal who are served by LGH can be left under the massive threat that exists with budget cuts at present.

Be clear this matter is not about the quality of services at LGH but how the budget cuts & recruitment embargo are impacting on the quality of services.

This will leave the hospital LGH in a position where it will not be able to meet the HSE required quality standards in the future.

Letterkenny General Hospital has had many major achievements over the years which it has never been recognised nor rewarded for.

We would also like on this occasion to bring it to your attention that we have never had any answers to our questions to you Minister in the past.

This is not acceptable.

Yours Sincerely,

Betty Holmes


[Donegal Action for Cancer Care] [About  DACC] [Overview of DACC] [Overview of Some of Ongoing Work] [Some more letters] [Overview of some  questions] [Financial support for cancer patients] [Cancer Related Sites] [Letterkenny General Hospital] [Annual Report 09] [Just for you!]