Launch of Dublin Midlands hospital strategy that sets out Portlaoise A&E closure

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

portlaoise a&e downgrade

Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise.

A strategy which contains the proposal to shut the Emergency Department (A&E / ED) at Portlaoise hospital is reportedly set to be published.

The Irish Times has reported that the HSE will, on Monday publish an already leaked new five-year strategic plan, for hospital services in Dublin and the Midlands including Portlaoise.

This plan, drawn up by the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG), was due to be published before Christmas but the Minister for Health is understood to have intervened after uproar in Portlaoise.

The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group Strategic Plan 2018-2023, sets out a major reconfiguration of services in Portlaoise, Tullamore, Naas, Tallaght, St James, the Coombe and St Lukes Hospital.

A central part of the plan is the removal of A&E from the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise. It also commits to expanding services mainly in Tallaght and Tullamore.  

A draft of the strategy was leaked to Laois TD Brian Stanley last October. Its chief author was the former DMHG chief executive Dr Susan O'Reilly. She called it a blueprint.

"The strategy acknowledges the significant work already underway across our seven hospitals, in a very challenging environment, and provides a blueprint of how the Group will continue to deliver the highest quality acute hospital care services in the country and continue to drive change, support innovation, and improve access to services for all patients," she wrote in the draft executive summary.

It lists the service priorities as follows:

- Urgent and emergency services will be redesigned to integrate between smaller and larger sites providing the optimum an safest configuration to deliver high quality emergency care.

- Formalise a trauma network between Tallaght hospital, the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore and St James' Hospital and align the development with the forthcoming National Trauma Report.

- Expand emergency department capacity, principally Tallaght Hospital and the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore.

- Develop 24/7 General Practitioner referred medical assesment unit and 12/7 local injuries unit in the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise in line with national clinical care programmes models of care.

There was uproar in Laois just before Christmas when the DMHG announced that it would launch the plan despite the fact that no decision had been reached on the future of Portlaoise and the downgrade plan which has also been leaked.

Minister Simon Harris intervened and the launch was postponed after the Portlaoise Hospital Action Group announced that it would picket the proposed launch in Trinity College Dublin.

The Minister has been in contact with doctors in Laois to consult on the future.