The future of Portlaoise Hospital is at a “critical juncture.” That's the stark message delivered in this latest Hiqa report.
Noting the number of improvements made, particlarly in maternity and overall governance, the report qualifies this assessment in a number of areas.
It states “the continuing lack of certainty around the provision of services at the hospital has led to difficulty in recruiting and keeping staff and an ongoing reliance on agency staff, which has significant financial implications for the hospital.”
Crucially it reports that “the fundamental issue remains unresolved.”
In succint language it states that to function as a model 3 hospital, Portlaoise “must be both adequately and sustainably resourced and have the capability through the level of services it can safety provide to manage the full spectrum of patients that may present to the Emergency Department.”
As it is and, despite the increases in funding and staff in other areas, Hiqa finds that the “hospital does not currently possess the inherent internal capability to manage all of the patients that may present to the Emergency Department.”
Only the formulation of a clear strategic plan for the hospital will address these issues.
Again everything is coming back to general services and in particular emergency services, on which the future of Portlaoise now seems to be increasingly predicated.
The HSE management has done much to address the issues raised in the last Hiqa report.
Less progress seems to have been achieved in other critical areas.
Progress or otherwise in resourcing the emergency department seems to be in limbo, pending a decision on a plan which is currently with the Department.
The lack of provision of resources for services generally does not bode well for this hospital.
While improvements are noted, little comfort can be taken from this report.
The decision on a plan for Portlaoise is the great void into which this hospital is now looking, and which is styming any future developments there.
It's not too difficult to discern a pattern from this in which A & E will be downgraded.
Hiqa does nothing to dispel this view.