GPs have urged the public to unite and fight against any downgrade of Portlaoise.
GPs have been to the fore in the campaigning against downgrade. Dr Gerry Whyte put the ball in the public’s court at the public meeting. The Portlaoise GP said the doctors had issued statements, met numerous TDs but the message did not seem to be getting through.
“What we are trying to do is alert the public as to what the problems are, and alert the public into action. It is time now for the public to take this on,” he said.
He said downgrade proposals risk lives.
“The most worrying thing is that this report, even though it is a draft report, has already been forwarded to the Department of Health and we feel plans are afoot to downgrade Portlaoise - take away 24-hour A & E - that means paediatric and maternity services will go and psychiatry. We feel that people will be put at unecessary risk and lives will be put at danger. Our great concern now is that this is being implemented even though it is being called a draft report,” he said.
Dr Mary Sheehan read a letter from Dr Susan O'Reilly in which the hospital chief apologised for the delay in “detailed engagement” with GPs saying “ it would not be helpful for me to meet you while the draft plan is under consideration.”
In the letter Dr O'Reilly said she wanted to engage “closely” and invited them to “active participation in implementation of change and delivery of service.”
“I think it is a bit late to talk to us before the plan is agreed,” said the Clonaslee doctor.
“There is a phrase we use about patients. Nothing about me without me. There should be no decision made about Portlaoise hospital without engaging with three very important groups. Firstly, the service users, patients and community who use Portlaiose hospital. Secondly, the staff of Portlaoise hospital who provide a great service that we see every day. Thirdly, the GPs who refer patients to Portlaoise hospital in the confidence that they are going to be looked after.”