Written pledge demanded

Councillors attack Government's negativity on hospital

Written pledge demanded

By Ryan Dunne ryan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Portlaoise's local politicians have slammed the Government for generating negative publicity around Portlaoise hospital, and have called on the Minister for Health to guarantee the retention of vital services “in writing”.

At the Portlaoise Municipal District meeting in County Hall this week, Cllr Willie Aird demanded that the Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris, guarantees in writing that the maternity unit and accident and emergency department remain in the hospital.

“It’s of vital importance we don’t talk it down, we must keep it talked up, we have a maternity unit and there has been investment in it and we want to go forward with it. The Minister is the only person who can give a guarantee,” said the Fine Gael man.

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said there had been a huge improvement in the maternity unit since new staff had joined and there was a need to expand the unit.

“I was chatting to a nurse in the hospital and there are worries up there, we need answers,” said Cllr Dwane Stanley, Sinn Fein.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, Fianna Fail, said that the local GPs and the consultants in the hospital were a credit to the county, and a lot of people had been fighting hard in Laois to save the hospital.

Cllr Mary Sweeney, Fine Gael, remarked that there was a lot of negativity surrounding the hospital and everyone was very concerned.

“I feel very sorry for the staff, there was so much put into the hospital and it’s dreadful to see services being taken away from it,” she said.

“Why is there at all times a question mark over the hospital?” asked Cllr Jerry Lodge, going on to say that the top level of Government was the source of any negativity.

“The negativity is at the Government level, the HSE is under financial pressure. We need to pursue this at the highest level - the negativity is not coming from us,” said Cllr Lodge, Fianna Fail.

Cllr John Joe Fennelly, cathaoirleach of the municipal district, said that an urgent meeting was needed with the Minister.

“I don’t know how the staff can go in there on a daily basis, it’s a credit to them.” said the Fianna Fail man.