Councillors want to meet Minister

Photo Denis Byrne.
Laois County Councillors are to request a meeting with the Minister for Health, three weeks after he visited Portlaoise Hospital and met with staff and affected families.

Laois County Councillors are to request a meeting with the Minister for Health, three weeks after he visited Portlaoise Hospital and met with staff and affected families.

Three of the 19 county councillors had notice of motions calling on the Minister to adequately fund and resource the hospital, at last week’s council meeting.

One of those councillors, Caroline Dwane-Stanley, said she hoped the HIQA report was not going to be used to downgrade the hospital.

“Why can’t Portlaoise be a centre of excellence?” she asked.

Cllr Dwane-Stanley questioned where people would go if the opening hours of the A&E were reduced.

“If the A&E was downgraded, where do people go after 8pm. Do they go to Tullamore, kilkenny or Kildare? We have the prison and a good population so I would ask the Minister to prioritise Portlaoise and to fund and resource the hospital,” she said.

Cllr Noel Tuohy, who had also tabled a motion, said the staff at the hospital needed solutions, not to be made scapegoats.

“Portlaoise Hospital is underfunded, understaffed, under-resourced and undermined.”

Cllr Mary Sweeney said the continued negativity surrounding the hospital was “sad”.

She said the staff were demoralised and the councillors owed it to them to talk the hospital up.

Meanwhile Cllr Jerry Lodge suggested meeting with the Minister.

“Writing to the Minister achieves little. I wrote to Mary Harney on many occasions and I must have got 20 acknowledgement letters, but nothing ever happened. We should request a meeting with the Minister.”

Cllr Willie Aird said he got a knot in his stomach every time he heard the hospital mentioned in the media.

“Every time Portlaoise Hospital is mentioned, I get a knot in my stomach.

“ We need to ensure money goes into it. The staff have never been under as much pressure as they are now. They are at breaking point,” said Cllr AIrd.