Charlie Flanagan at the Light for Lives Rally in Portlaoise. Pic: Denis Byrne
The launch of a strategy that underpins the downgrade of Portlaoise hospital should be scrapped according to Laois TD and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.
Minister Flanagan also said that the Minster for Health Simon Harris has given no approval to any plan or strategy that would begin the removal of A&E, maternity, paediatrics, ICU and most surgery from the Laois hospital.
Minster Flanagan held face-to-face talks with his fellow Laois TDs Sean Fleming and Brian Stanley on the issue last week. The Health Minister issued a statement afterwards to the Leinster Express.
“I made it clear that I have not yet made any decision on the substance of the draft Action Plan. I have some concern about the process involved in developing the draft Action Plan and I am keen that a broad consultation will take place with local clinicians and the community. I intend to provide further clarity on this issue shortly,” said Minister Harris.
However, on the same day it emerged that the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group had invited senior hospital management from Dublin and the Midlands to a launch of the 'Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Strategic Plan 2018-2023'.
His cabinet colleague Charlie Flanagan said nothing has changed since he met with Minister Harris last week. Speaking to the Leinster Express, Minister Flanagan said he believed that the proposal to launch the strategy was 'disgraceful'.
"I'm calling for the meeting on Thursday to be scrapped," he said.
Minister Flanagan said he has since spoke with Minister Harris and was assured that the approval had been given to no plan or strategy. He said 'the situation hasn't' changed since last Friday's meeting.
"This is disgraceful and I've already said the downgrade is an affront to democracy and I have lost confidence in the HSE," he said.
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 2016 is a policy decision for the Minister for Health," it said.
Laois Sinn Féin TD has called on the Minister for Health to intervene and force the HSE to cancel the strategy launch.