The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is understood to have warned that he would ‘resign’ if he was forced to make the ‘wrong’ decision on the future of the A&E at Portlaoise hospital.
And he has also revealed a decision on the unit’s future could be made within a month.
The Minister met TDs, Minister Charlie Flanagan, Laois councillors and a hospital action group representative who were hoping the Minister would give them some commitment that would see the hospital retain its 24-hour service.
However, according to one source who attended the meeting the Minister made it clear that he would not make any promises other than to ensure that a decision would be based in the best interests of patient safety.
Cllr Padraig Fleming said the Minister was left under no illusion by all public representatives from Laois who attended the meeting in the Dáil that they wanted a 24/7 service retained.
He said the Minister informed them that Dr Susan O’Reilly, chief executive of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, was carrying out a report on the emergency department and that the decision on its future would be based on what this report recommends.
“He told us he would resign before making the wrong decision,” said Cllr Fleming.
Minister Varadkar said he would be guided by Dr O’Reilly’s report and, regardless of political reasons, he would be guided by patient safety.
The Fianna Fáil county councillor said the Minister expects to have Dr O’Reilly’s ready within three to four weeks.
A public meeting on the A&E of the Portlaoise Action Group is due to take place at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel from 8pm this Friday, June 19.