A Portlaoise GP has offered to buy Portlaoise Hospital and continue running it as a joint private/public venture, in an effort to prevent the hospital being downgraded.
“We have to make sure we are looking after all the local people. The HSE will wash their hands and I will upgrade the service,” said Dr Ashfaq Ahmad, who has practiced at the Kilminchy Medical Centre since 2006.
He has revealed to the Leinster Express that acting with the backing of a number of investors, he approached the HSE to discuss the possibility of purchasing the local hospital to ensure that vital services are retained.
However, the HSE rejected the proposal, saying: “The HSE has no plans to sell or lease any of its hospitals to the private sector to operate as a private hospital.”
Dr Ahmad said he contacted Deputy Sean Fleming, which led to Deputy Fleming bringing the proposal to the Minister for Health.
In a parliamentary question, Deputy Fleming asked the Minister to consider “whether or not any HSE owned hospitals could be sold to the private sector to operate as a privately run hospital on a public/private partnership basis...or whether a premises could be leased to the private sector for them to provide the services.”
In a letter dated July 29 this year, Ms Angela Fitzgerald, deputy national director of the Acute Hospital Division, told Deputy Fleming that the HSE would not sell or lease any of its hospitals to the private sector.
“The HSE is focussed on effective use of public resources,” she said.
Dr Ahmad said that had his offer been accepted, he would have kept hospital staff as required and upgraded the hospital.
“What I am offering is, you sell the hospital to me and I will keep the services as they are, the same public service and we will provide the private service too,” he said.
“If you’re closing down your A&E at 7pm, where will the people go? Where will people deliver the baby? What are the chances you will survive a heart attack?” he asked.
Deputy Fleming was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.