Laois doctors have drawn up a plan that would see Portlaoise's hospital future secured in a wider network of hospitals.
In the absence of consultation with the public or doctors from health management, nearly 70 local GPs and consultants have put their names to a plan which they believe can offer an alternative to downgrade.
The plan is called The Future of Services at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise - the Local Stakeholder Perspective. It was drawn up as an alternatve to an unpublished plan that was drawn up by Dr Susan O'Reilly, CEO of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. Her plan was submitted to the Department of Health this year.
Dr O'Reilly's plan is understood to have proposed a significant downgrade of Portlaoise hospital and loss of A&E. But the plan drawn up by Laois doctors proposes the development of services.
Central to the plan drawn up by consultants and GPs in Laois is the solution that was found for the embattled maternity unit. The doctors believe the integration of that unit with the Coombe hospital in Dublin offers a way forward.
“We believe that the pioneering developments at the Department of obstetrics and Gynaecology at MRH Portlaoise provide a template as to how the hospital network generally can be re-configured to strengthen and support patient care in regional centres,” said the report.
The doctors are adamant that they do not want to retain the status quo in Portlaoise but they vehemently oppose downgrade, particularly of the A&E. They say the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group plan, which was sent to the Department of Health, 'repeats past mistakes'.
“If implemented services that can effectively and safely be provided at MRH Portlaoise will cease to be provided there and patients who currently rely on MRH Portlaoise will be forced to look elsewhere,” it said.
The plan is due to be sent to health management this week. Laois TD and Government Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed the plan and said he would present it in person to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris who has the final say.
See this week's Leinster Express