Light for Lives anti downgrade protest in Portlaoise. Pic: Denis Byrne
High profile Tipperary TD and Labour spokesperson on Health, Alan Kelly, has said any downgrading of Portlaoise Hospital must be stopped.
Deputy Kelly said removal of A&E and other services is not acceptable from a number of perspectives. He called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris should make his intentions clear.
"Any downgrading of Portlaoise hospital is unacceptable both in the context of the Sláintecare Report and a growing population locally.
"There is a bed capacity review underway that needs to be completed and a central part of the Sláintecare Report is that the outputs of acute hospitals would be assessed in year three.
"Minister Harris should come clean on what the HSE is planning for Portlaoise as the 'Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Strategic Plan 2018-2023' is due to be published on Thursday which will make clear what the long term plans are.
Dep Kelly agreed that there are serious concerns locally that the A&E, ICU, maternity, paediatrics and most surgery will be removed from Portlaoise.
He said local Labour councillors Noel Touhy, Mark Wall and Aoife Breslin have all expressed their deep concerns to me on the impact the loss of those services would have.
The Nenagh-based TD said his party would oppose downgrade because of its impact on other hospitals.
"The Labour Party will oppose plans to downgrade the services provided at Portlaoise Hospital which will put further pressure on other acute hospitals in the region," he said.
The TD has seen firsthand the impact of downgrade at Nenagh Hospital. Clonmel and Limerick hospitals are regularly overwhelmed.