March 13, 2004.
It was a disgrace to see mothers lying on pull-out mattresses in Portlaoise General Hospital, Mayor Elaine Dunne told the town council monthly meeting last week.
Adopted was Cllr Tom Jacob’s proposal calling on the Health Board to state when the new paediatric unit at the hospital would open.
“There’s a lovely new building up there lying idle,” he said. “Why? It cost a fortune to put it there. It’s pathetic to think we have a new unit ready to roll and no staff to go into it. It’s shameful. We will probably get an announcement before June (local elections) and everything will be rosy in the garden.”
Cllr Jacob added: “We have people from Portlaoise going even to Cork for bed accommodation.”
Cllr Kathleen O’Brien: “There’s overcrowding in the old unit. There will be a huge opening just before the elections. We are entitled to have that unit open.”
She said the recently built psychiatric unit, attached to the General Hospital, was also idle.
Stressing the importance of studying the Hanly Report, she claimed: “We do not know what’s going to happen to our hospital and we won’t know it before it’s too late.”
In a statement yesterday the Midland Health Board said it was engaged in ongoing discussions with the Irish Nurses Organisation with a view to opening the paediatric unit in the future.