Minister enters hospital row

The Minister for Health has stepped into the row over Portlaoise Hospital in an effort to reassure the public that there will be no downgrade for the hospital

The Minister for Health has stepped into the row over Portlaoise Hospital in an effort to reassure the public that there will be no downgrade for the hospital

Dr James Reilly this week denied reports that the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise is to be downgraded to a model two hospital.

However, the HSE stated that there will be changes in in the hospital’s status, following on from the HIQA reports on Ennis and Mallow Hospitals.

Minister Reilly emphasised that he had made it clear in July that Portlaoise would remain a Model Three hospital.

“In July of this year I attended the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children and made clear that Portlaoise is a Model Three hospital, and will remain a Model Three hospital. I stated to the committee that this is Government policy and will not change,” the Minister stressed.

Minister Reilly said the Government had asked the HSE to produce a framework for the nation’s smaller hospitals which “ensures a vibrant, safe future for smaller hospitals, serving their communities.”

He added: “The proposals brought forward by the HSE will be the subject of consultation on many levels.”

However, the HSE failed to deny that Portlaoise would be downgraded to a Model Two Hospital.

They outined that they continued to work towards the full implementation of the HIQA reports into Ennis and Mallow Hospital, which they said would “give rise to changes in the role of smaller hospitals.” This included the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

“The changes relate to how services are delivered, and are in the interests of patient safety. The changes are to be implemented in the majority of similar sized hospitals throughout the country, as detailed in the HIQA report,” the HSE stated.

Last week, the Leinster Express reported that the hospital’s emergency department was to be downgraded to a medical assesment unit, which the HSE said was appropriate to a Model Two hospital, which only “low risk medical patients” would be referred to. This information was produced by the HSE in July and presented to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, in recent weeks.