Press Release

Varadkar visits Arranmore Island to assess health facilities

First visit by Health Minister in living memory.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is visiting Arranmore Island in Co. Donegal today to assess its health facilities and see how island residents deal with health issues. This is the first time that a Minister for Health has visited the island in living memory.

Minister Varadkar said: “I wanted to see at first hand how island residents manage their health needs, and to assess the State’s ability to meet those demands. As Minister for Health I am trying to get direct experience of our health service, and this is a good opportunity to see how people are cared for in unique circumstances.”

Arranmore has a population of 514, largely Irish speaking, which rises to 2,000 in the summer months when Gaeltacht students, migrant workers and tourists visit. The visit coincides with an HSE review into island health services, which involves residents and professionals living and working on Arranmore and other islands.Fifty per cent of the Island population is over 65 years of age, half of whom live alone. Many of those in employment commute daily to work on the mainland. The main source of employment on the island is sheep farming, fishing, construction, and providing home care.

There is a dedicated health centre with GP services three days a week. The island GP is resident and has practiced on the island for 30 years. The locum GP has also worked on the island long term. The Public Health Nurse works Monday to Friday and travels to the island daily. The primary care centre is located 15 km away on the mainland. Access to the multidisciplinary team is on a needs assessment basis and visits are made to the island when required.

Out of hours emergency services on the island are provided through 999 and facilitated by the RNLI service located at the Arranmore lighthouse. Community groups organise sporting, recreational and entertainment services for all residents which includes meals on wheels and services to promote mental health.