The signs are ominous that health managment and the Department of Health are set to ignore proposals drawn up by Laois doctors that would retain emergency and other services at Portlaoise hospital.
Neither the Department of Health nor the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group would make a direct comment on the detailed proposals set out last week by hospital consultants and GPs in Laois.
The doctors argued that the services must be retained in the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, not just for Laois patients, but also for people from other counties who attend Portlaoise and other hospitals already under pressure.
The doctors said in their plan that maternity, paediatrics and other services will be lost if a draft plan drawn up by the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group is implemented.
The Leinster Express contacted both the Department and the Dublin Midland Hospital Group for comment.
The Department confirmed that it had recevied the report from the Laois doctors but was awaiting a response from the relevant section.
We also asked for an interview from the DMHG chief executive, Dr Susan O'Reilly. Dr O'Reilly is responsible for drawing up plans for Portlaoise.
She was unavailable for interview. A statement issued on her behalf made no refererance to proposals drawn up by the Laois doctors.
Instead it set out the long standing postion on the hospital. It said it has recently submitted a draft plan comprising the design phase of a new model of clinical services provision for the Hospital Group to the Health Service Executive and to the Department of Health.
“Further work is ongoing by the DMHG to finalise this document prior to any final decision on the future design of service provision at Portlaoise Hospital.
“The draft plan is a long term vision and long term plan for Portlaoise Hospital and takes account of the need to develop services at Portlaoise Hospital, the interdependencies of clinical services and the risks of low volume services in the context of developing the model of service provision for the delivery of safe, sustainable hospital care for the entire Hospital Group.
“It is important to stress that the development of this draft plan is following a mandate from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to develop an Action Plan to address their concerns in relation to patient safety and risk at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. Similarly, the HSE ‘Performance Diagnostics Report’ from 2014 highlighted similar concerns, as did the Chief Medical Officer’s Report to the Minister on Perinatal Deaths at Portlaoise Hospital,” said the statement.
It said the draft plan was developed in collaboration with the National Clinical Leads (Consultants) who are responsible for the National Clinical Programmes in Acute Medicine, Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Transportation Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Neonatology, Anaesthesia and Critical Care, as well as the National Ambulance Service and the National Acute Hospital Division Clinical Advisor and Deputy Director.
The DMHG said its draft plan has the “full support” of all HSE National Clinical Leads and it was endorsed by the HSE Leadership Team.
It also reconfirmed that work on a detailed implementation plan will include engagement with staff, clinicians, local GPs, primary and social care services, patients, public and elected representatives.
“The Hospital Group is committed to ensuring that any changes, once approved, will be carried out in a planned and consultative manner and provide for high-quality, sustainable care at the hospital, in partnership with the HSE, Primary Care Division and Community Health Area as a priority.