The failure publish a clear plan for Portlaoise Hospital is causing concern and frustration for staff and the public, according to the Chief Executive of the Dublin Midlands Group, Dr Susan O'Reilly.
In a letter to the Department of Health, obtained by The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr O'Reilly also states that the lack of a plan is making it extremely difficult to recruit doctors and nurses.
She warns of the"inherent risk" of relying on locum and other temporary staff, and states that this is "unsustainable."
Staff, the public and GPs in Portlaoise urgently need to have a sense of the long-term strategic plan for the hospital, she says.
"It is continuously highlighted to me by staff and management that their ability to recruit new staff or replace existing experienced clinical staff who are retiring may well be compromised by the lack of a strategic plan. They cannot answer the very simple question ‘what are the plans for the hospital and the region’?"
She says Portlaoise is struggling to retain nurses and has always struggled to fill physician posts. "There is a risk if no decisions are taken as staff are looking for information and some certainty about the future."
The department says the plan is being reviewed “in detail”, and patient safety and good quality outcomes will come first in any changes made.
“Any changes will be undertaken in a planned and orderly manner to further improve services for patients, and will take account of existing patient flows and demands in other hospitals, as well as the need to develop particular services at Portlaoise in the context of the overall service configuration in the group.”