The Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee is pleased to respond to the statement from Minister for Health Simon Harris.
The Minister confirmed that he has ordered the Department of Health to engage in a consultation process with local clinicians and the community in Laois and the surrounding areas. Whilst we acknowledge that this will delay the Minister’s decision on the future of Portlaoise Hospital, we believe that this is appropriate.
Chairperson, Thomas Timmons said: "We really welcome this development. Two days in a row, the Minister for Health has made sound decisions with respect to this matter. We will have to wait longer for a decision but he is right to not rush a decision on a report which has so many process flaws!"
Secretary, John Hanniffy stated: "The Minister is showing us that, like us, he lacks confidence in this plan. We are very happy that he is now calling for due process to be recognized and followed."
"We are delighted that the Minister, in calling for consultation, understands that any strategy for equitable, consistent and accessible health care cannot be achieved without working ‘with’ local clinicians and ‘with’ the community," said Eimear Holland, PRO.
"We have great respect for and faith in our local clinicians, who already have an alternative plan, which is draws on principles of collaboration and partnership and which is more cost-effective whilst ensuring safe and effective health care. Meaningful consultation will lead to a better plan for Portlaoise Hospital"
The committee is very aware that this decision has been brought to a head, due to the hard work of the people of Laois and the surrounding areas. We would also like to thank our TDs who clearly played a role in this outcome. They have been united, singing from the same hymn sheet. Party politics was put to the side with everyone focused on the one point; that our hospital cannot be downgraded in any way.
As such, they and the people have not allowed the HSE or the DMHG to ignore this important issue. They have shone a blinding spotlight on it helping the Minister to see that a decision can’t be made without the people. We thank all concerned for their work in making this happen.