Health Minister set to snub Laois councillors on Portlaoise hospital

County councillors planned to travel to Dublin to meet Minister for Health Simon Harris to argue against downgrading Laois hospital but Minister says he will meet after plan is drawn up

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Minister for Health Simon Harris

Minister Harris will not meet county councillors from Laois until after he has a plan for the hospital's future.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris could snub Laois County Councillors if they travel to Dublin to meet him over the possible downgrade of Portlaoise hospital.

In a reply to Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming, Minister Harris said he would "be happy to meet the politicians" after a plan for the hospital is complete. He said the daft plan for the Midlands Regional Hospital is "subject to work and consideration with the HSE with a view to finalising for submission to the Department"

"No decisions have been made in relation to Portlaoise hospital at this stage, but once the work I have outlined is completed I would be happy to meet with the Laois Oireachtas members and members of Laois County Councillors in the context of the consultation process," said Minister Harris in his written reply to the Fianna Fáil TD.

At their October meeting councillors in Laois agreed to travel to Dublin to meet the Minister in an effort to prevent downgrade such as the removal of A&E and other services.

"Our backs are to the wall. We should show solidarity," said Cllr Willie Aird proposing the move to meet the Minister in Dublin in early November.

In a statement Deputy Fleming said any meeting with politicians and meetings with Laois GPs and consultants should "take place before any decisions are made".

"Any attempt to finalise the process in advance of these meetings would render the process fundamentally flawed and would be clearly open to challenge," he said.