Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise.
Health management could end up having to use Tallaght hospital's car park for trollies if its sister hospital in Portlaoise is downgraded under a proposal that would have national implications for patients.
Mr Austin Stack, Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee member, made the extraordinary claim and said he was utterly dismayed at plans to divert A&E services from Portlaoise as revealed in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Strategy leaked to Laois TD Brian Stanley.
He described the plan as "short sighted, irrational and illogical plan” which would have national implications.
"The HSE have a clear agenda to wind up our hospital which will lead to people dying. If the A&E is closed then maternity and paediatrics will quickly follow suit.
“This is a national issue and should not be seen a local one to the Midlands. The HSE want to send the 40,0000 A&E patients from Portlaoise to Tallaght which already has an overcrowded A&E,” he said.
Mr Stack called on the HSE to explain where all these extra patients are going to be accommodated. He said the hospital which services Laois, south Kildare, parts of Carlow, Offaly and Kilkenny is of critical importance to the Midlands region.,
"Are they going to put trollies in the carpark of Tallaght? When the maternity and paediatrics close, as they invariably will, this will also impact on Dublin Hospitals, St. James and The Coombe”.
He claimed that the HSE want a situation where there is no critical A&E cover from Tallaght to Limerick “with ambulance waiting times increasing we are most definitely looking at people dying”.
In its strategy the DMHG says Portlaoise A&E would be closed and replaced 24/7 Medical Assessment Unit and a 12/7 Local Injury Unit. The DMHG says Tallaght and Tullamore will pick up the slack. In 2016 nearly 40,000 people presented to Portlaoise while nearly 50,000 went to Tallaght. Some 33,200 went to Tullamore.
Almost 200,000 people attended A&Es in the five acute hospitals in the group which also includes Naas and St James'.
In calling for the hospital to be upgraded, Mr Stack said a clear investment in the Laois hospital was needed. He said its annual budget should not millions less than a nearby hospital which serves a the same population area. The DMHG says Portlaoise has a €51.7m budget with 668 full time posts.
"Kilkenny Hospital which covers a similar catchment area to Portlaoise receives €14 million more of a budget each year.
"Portlaoise is the fastest growing urban area in the country and the A&E in Portlaoise is the busiest one outside the major cities”. Do our lives not matter as much as those in Kilkenny?”
Mr Stack pointed out that GPs and consultants in Laois have produced an alternative plan but have been ignored on this issue.
The son of murdered Chief Prison Officer Brian Stack recently joined the reformed committee in the wake of public meeting in Portlaoise to protest a plan to downgrade Portlaoise.
He called on the people of the midlands to “support the local Hospital Action Committee and ensure that those who would see people needlessly dying in our community don’t get their way.
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