Light for Lives hospital protest in November 2017. Picture Denis Byrne
Civil servants will interpret the outcome of a HSE undertaken consultation process on Portlaoise hospital and recommend to the Minister for Health on whether it will impact on a plan to downgrade the hospital.
The Minister for Health Simon Harris revealed the mechanics of the long-promised consultation in a letter in which he outlined who will be given a chance to provide some input.
Minister Harris confirmed in a letter to Laois TD Brian Stanley, that consultation meetings should take place with “key stakeholder groups.”
These include: Service providers - Laois Faculty of the Irish College of General Practitioners,Laois MIDOC (out of hours service), Portlaoise hospital management, CEO of HSE Community Health Office area 8, Mental Health Local Health Office.
Also listed are public /community / public representatives. These include: Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee / other local community group / parents group, Irish Prison Service, Laois County Council and KIldare County Council representatives, TDs and Senators.
The Minister said he committed to ensuring that local clinicans and the community would be consulted before reaching a decision on a draft action plan for Portlaoise hospital.
His letter repeated his committment to a comprhensive consultation excercise undertaken by the HSE with an external facilitator.
“The outcome of the consultation process will be a submission from my Department to me as Minister setting out the key findings from the consultationprocess and recommend response to inform me in making a final decision on the draft action plan,” he wrote.
The draft plan proposes downgrade of the Midland Regional Hospital including closure of the A&E and ICU. Maternity and paediatrics would move and most surgery would end.
Deputy Stanley said: “This consultation process must be expedited in a timely manner and should not be used as an exercise to drag the process to get the Government out to the far side of a general election.”