Minister Simon Harris must 'cancel' launch of 'blueprint' underpinning Portlaoise downgrade

Laois Sinn Féin TD calls on Harris to intervene

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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Light for Lives anti downgrade protest in Portlaoise. Pic: Denis Byrne

The Minister for Health must cancel a launch of 'blueprint' strategy that underpins the downgrade of Portlaoise hospital according to Laois Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.

The TD revealed last Friday that the chief executive of the HSE'S Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, Dr Susan O'Reilly has invited senior management from hospitals in Dublin and the midlands to the launch of its 'Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Strategic Plan 2018-2023'. 

The plan was leaked early this year to Dep Stanley. It confirmed that A&E would be replaced with a local injuries unit and a Medical Assessment Unit. Within weeks the longer downgrade plan was also leaked.

The strategy is predicated on the go-ahead by the Minister for the implementation of a plan for the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise which would see A&E, ICU, maternity, paediatrics and most surgery removed from Portlaoise. The hospital would be re-graded as a Category 2 facility. Dr O'Reilly described it as the bluerprint.

"I have contacted Minister Harris's office this morning requesting that he immediately cancels Dr. Susan O'Reilly's launching of her Plan for the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group which includes Portlaoise Hospital scheduled for Thursday (December 21)," he said.

Dep Stanley, Minister Charlie Flanagan and Dep Sean Fleming met with Minister Harris in Government Buildings in Dublin last week. Dep Stanley said Minister Harris appeared to indicate no decision had been reached. 

"Minister Harris committed at our meeting last Friday to having consultations with local clinicians and local representatives before making any final decision and this launch pre-empts that process and the Minister's final decision. This is not acceptable," he said.

The Minister for Health had also said previously that there were would be further consultation after the Department and HSE had reached an agreed position.

The Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee has committed to mounting a protest at the launch in Trinity College Dublin. 

In a statement issued in November the DMHG confirmed that any decision on the future of the hospital rests with Minister Harris.

"From the outset the Hospital Group and Portlaoise Hospital would like to state unequivocally, the approval of proposed action plan submitted to the Department of Health in December 201 is a policy decision for the Minister for Health," it said.

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