Number of patients using Portlaoise A&E plunges new Department of Finance report finds

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

portlaoise trolley

Portlaoise hospital A&E

The number of people who chose to attend the Emergency Department (ED/A&E) at Portlaoise's hospital has fallen more than any other unit in the country, according to a Department of Finance study prepared for Budget 2020.

The trend is also dramatically different at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise when compared to most other hospitals including its sister hospitals in Tullamore and Naas.

The findings are contained in an Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service paper prepared by officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for Minister Paschal Donohoe's 2020 Budget.

The Spending Review covers the years from 2014 to 2017. 

It says that between 2014 and 2017 Emergency Department presentations increased nationally by 100,000 or 8% at the country's 29 units. There were 1.2 million ED presentations in 2014 this rose to 1.3 million four years later.

Since 2014 new presentation increased around the country by 84,000 or 7.5%. There is significant variation across hospitals. The review found that new presentations fell by 12% at the Portlaoise hospital compared to a 31% rise at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

New presentations rose at Portlaoise's two sister hospitals in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. Both Naas General Hospital and the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore saw new presentations rise by more than 5%.

The review does not detail how the number of patients who attend each hospital.

The report also says there has been a big rise in the numbers attending Local Injury Units. These units are located in hospitals that have lost Emergency Departments in downgrades. 

The HSE wants to downgrade Portlaoise hospital removing its A&E and many other departments. A plan outlining the changes was completed in 2017 remains with the Department of Health for consideration.

The HSE's downgrade plan was drawn up in the wake of the controversy at the Laois hospital which revealed babies died at the hospital's maternity unit.

Other reports have recommended that the emergency services should be withdrawn from the hospital.