The 39-bedded acute medical unit is one of the busiest, providing a 24-hour service that admits patients with a variety of conditions, including heart diseases and diabetes.
Attendances shot up to 4,000 in 2015 and it is fully occupied, with unacceptably high numbers who should be in the unit on trolleys in A&E. On average, this year, up to 14 patients were boarded overnight in A&E.
Apart from capacity, it is faced with a variety of problems varying from a lack of funding and cuts, to a lack of access to beds in bigger hospitals due to the A&E crisis.
The doctors reject Dr Susan O'Reilly's downgrade plan as they say it will lead to patients having to go to hospitals elsewhere, that do not have the capacity.
The network idea proposed by Laois doctors would mean that care provided by patients attending Portlaoise hospital is on an equal footing with a bigger unit which would share resources and staff with Portlaoise.
Another key department is ICU and it is an area where doctors believe there can be a scaling back of services with out the need for a shutdown.
“The critical care resource is an essential safeguard; were it to cease, acute care could no longer take place on site,” said the plan.
Laois doctors believe services could be changed to suit the services provided.
“As a Category 1 ICU the unit would continue to provide life-saving treatment on a 24-7 basis for patients who become critically unwell while in hospital, or who present critically ill to the hospital.
“However, the focus would change. No longer would the patients ICU stay in its entirety be expected to be completed at Portlaoise,” said the plan.
The plan also calls for networks and pathways in ICU.