Deep budget cuts at hospital

PORTLAOISE hospital is the worst funded and staffed hospital out of its three sister hospitals.

PORTLAOISE hospital is the worst funded and staffed hospital out of its three sister hospitals.

The 2011 budget service plan also reveals that the hospital’s funding has been slashed despite improving its productivity and being expected to have to do more with less. Portlaoise had a budget of E42m for 2011.

“This is a reduction on the E51m in 2009 and the hospital is expected to deliver the same service with ever increasing workload,” said the plan outlined by hospital management. The plan says the hospital is set to go into the red by E4 million this year. Management say that staying within budget will be “extremely challenging”. They say it will be hard for the hospital to cut services because 95 percent of the service is “emergency” driven.

The number who went to A&E increased last year to 42,655. Despite this the HSE will not staff a full time emergency medicine consultant - two Tullamore consultants cover the hospital part time.

Deputy Brian Stanley called for action from the HSE.

“You have an increasing workload on a reduced budget... It is clear where the problem is here. Not alone have we to maintain what we have, we must increase it. We must now start demanding the new maternity unit.”

The cuts on Portlaoise are in line with other hospitals in Tullamore, Mullingar and Naas. But what is not in line is their bigger budgets and staffing. Portlaoise receives less funding that all the others despite having the busiest A&E.

More than 110,000 cases were dealt with in Portlaoise last year compared to nearly 80,000 in Naas. Portlaoise has almost 600 staff compared to 700 in Naas. Portlaoise also lags badly behind Tullamore and Mullingar.

Tullamore has nearly 1,000 staff and a budget of E80,000 while Mullingar has more than 750 staff 55 million. These hospitals were almost level at 135,000 cases annually.

Portlaoise has less beds than the other hospitals but has the second best rate of day and in patient discharges.

The service plan also reveals that two thirds of Portlaoise’s patients are from Laois with many others come from Kildare and Tipperary. Management suspect that this is due to long waiting times and overcrowding at Naas A&E as well as the downgrading of Nenagh.

Trolley waits in Portlaoise were put down to the high number of attendances, a shortage of beds and a lack of a 24 hour CT machine.