The Department of Health is shoring up operations at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise which is in need of support, Minister Kathleen Lynch admitted in the Dáil last week.
She said there are no plans to close the emergency department at the Portlaoise hospital and stressed the actions being taken are not in keeping with a policy of closing the emergency department there.
Minister Lynch said patient safety will be “paramount at all times when additional decisions are being made” in relation to the hospital and that “considerable decisions have already been made”.
She outlined following the Chief Medical Officer’s report last January on maternity services in the hospital and a visit to the hospital by the HSE national surgical clinical programme, the HSE undertook a performance diagnostic to ascertain the current performance status of the hospital in all aspects of service provision. The report identified a number of issues and made key recommendations with regard to control, leadership and clinical services at the hospital.
“The report suggested that some services in the hospital need to be reconfigured to ensure patients are treated in the most appropriate setting by specialist staff who can meet their needs. The over-riding concern is to address any patient safety and quality concerns that arise,” she said.
The HSE is working through an action plan with the staff in the hospital to stabilise and improve services there. “Changes are required to enhance existing resources and structures at the hospital and to address clinical service deficiencies,” she said.
The joint governance group will examine the future ‘service configuration’., including emergency department services.
Brian Stanley and, Sean Fleming sought reassurances on the hospital. Minister Lynch said she was not able to provide information on budgets for 2015 at this stage, as requested by Deputy Stanley.
“We have not been reassured that services at the hospital are safe for the future,” Deputy Stanley said. “Although she said ‘there are no plans’ to close the emergency department, she did not give us a funding commitment,” he said.