Laois GPs have expressed concern that maternity services could be relocated from Portlaoise hospital to a regional centre in Tullamore.
“We are concerned at suggestions that services may move to Tullamore in the future. Again there has been no consultation with local stakeholders in relation to this,” said a statement.
The GPs, many of whom are members of the Midoc o out-of-hours emergency service, said their primary concern is that services be strengthened.
“We believe that the pioneering plan that is the managed clinical network between MRH Portlaoise and the Coombe Women's and Infant's Hospital developed by the Dublin Midlands' Hospital Group provides a template for safe, sustainable, and patient centred care at MRH Portlaoise. This should be extended across the range of specialties,” they said adding that the template could be rolled out nationally to secure smaller hospitals.
The link with the Coombe Hospital was established by former health minister Leo Varadkar in the wake of deaths of babies at the maternity unit in Portlaoise.
It has led to more staff and the involvment of the Coombe on the ground in Portlaoise in the provision of services.
The GPs were responding to a letter sent by Dr Susan O'Reilly, Chief Executive of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group to health managementin relation to anaesthetic cover at the unit.
In the letter, revealed by the Leinster Express, Dr O'Reilly suggested that a new hospital in Tullamore was a possible solution and this would involve relocation of services from Portlaoise and other hospitals.
GPs have already endorsed a plan submitted to the HSE, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and Deparment of Health backing the expansion of networked hospital care as an alternative to downgrading Portlaoise hospital as proposed in a draft plan submitted to the Department. It is understood that this plan, which was written by Dr O'Reilly, would see the loss of A&E, maternity, paediatrics and other services from Portlaoise.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has the final say in what happens at Portlaoise. His Department has yet to make a decision on what care will be provided at the hospital which serves Laois and patients from Kildare, Carlow, Tipperary and Offaly.