GPs not yet consulted by HSE on new €5 million Medical Assessment Unit at Portlaoise hospital

Consultants tell hospital management that GPs must be involved

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

The hospital in Portlaoise.

Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

The Health Service Executive has had no consultations with family doctors over a multi-million unit built at Portlaoise hospital that could replace the hospital's A&E.

The Leinster Express understands that discussions were held in the past fortnight with hospital consultants at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise over the operation of a Medical Assessment Unit.

The €5 million facility was completed by the middle of 2016 and was due to be fully operational in the third quarter of 2016.

Consultants have told management at the HSE's Dublin Midlands Hospital Group that talks must take place with local GPs before the unit can open. However, the Leinster Express understands that the GPs have not been consulted.

Medical Assessment Units allow GPs to directly refer patients with minor injuries or ailments to hospital for care. GPs are key to the operation of such units elsewhere. The GPs may not co-operate with the service as it may mean the end of A&E services at the hospital.

It is not clear how it will operate. The new HIQA review of the hospital calls it a Medical Assessment Unit. Such units exist in Category 2 hospitals where Emergency Departments have closed.

Portlaoise remains a Category 3 hospital. Similar hospitals have Acute Medical Assesment Units which open 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing treatment and / or observation and investigation of patients where the estimated length of stay is less than 48 hours. 

The HIQA review of progress at Portlaoise hospital reports that nearly 25,000 adults and more than 11,200 attended the Emergency Department in Portlaoise in 2015. Data provided by the hospital to HIQA indicated that 87% of these presented had less serious conditions.