A dramatic reduction of damaging and costly clinical health care mistakes and incidents has been recorded in Laois according to Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming.
The chaiman of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee published figures between 2015 and 2017. He said the information was produced by the State Claims Agency which deals with all clinical care incidents by the HSE.
While the issues do not all relate to the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, the Laois TD believes the improvement weakens the HSE's case to downgrade.
The agency is responsible for handling and legal claims taken against the health service on behalf of the taxpayer.
Dep Fleming said the agency produced a report on Tuesday, May 25 and then forwarded it to the Public Accounts Committee.
Overall in Laois there has been a 40% reduction in clinical care incidents reported since 2015. The numbers reported in each year are as follows: 2015 - 1,882, 2016 - 1,457 and 2017 - 1,143.
Figures for Offaly jumped from 430 in 2015 to 3,139 in 2017.
This 40% reduction is in the context of 14% increase in the overall reported figures nationally in the same period up from 42,780 up to 48,721.
These incidents include clinical and birth procedures, medication, diagnostic and nutrition blood/related incidents.
"In 2015 the figures in Laois were extremely serious and Co. Laois had the 4th highest number of incidents nationally. Laois has now improved its situation dramatically and is now down to 13th on the list of figures for counties nationally," he said.
Dep Fleming also pointed out that in some counties the figures are particularly low as there are no hospitals in those areas. These incidents relate not just to hospitals but also community and health care services.
The TD said he is immediately bringing this information to the attention of Minister for Health, Simon Harris because he claimed it "proves categorically that the level of care has improved in Laois dramatically in recent times".
"It makes no sense downgrading a hospital where the situation has been proved to be getting better. The Minister needs to employ additional staff in the A&E Department in Portlaoise to achieve even better results in future years.
"It is frightening that the plan on the Minister's desk is stating, with a closure of the A&E Department in Laois, that patients who attend Portlaoise would travel to other counties that have seen a significant increase in reported clinical incidents in recent years.
"Finally, these figures prove the health services in Portlaoise is improving and if extra staffing arrangements are put in place in the A&E Department, the service will be safer and better into the future,"he said.
The Minister is consulting on a HSE plan which proposes a radical reduction of services at Portlaoise hospital. Maternity would close as would paediatrics, A&E and ICU.