Health minister Simon Harris
As Portlaoise hospital staff are on the Covid-19 front line, Laois-Offaly TD Carol Nolan, has written to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, asking him to bring immediate clarity to its future.
The Independent TD says that the continuation of all services at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, including the urgent development and continued upgrading of its maternity unit, has been subjected to unsustainable levels of uncertainty because of a failure of the HSE to provide definitive regional and national guidance on the future of the facility.
A HSE plan exists to remove maternity, paediatrics, A&E and most surgery from the hospital. The plan would also see the ICU department, which is central to the Covid-19 challenge, removed.
“In November of 2019, I wrote to Minister Harris asking him if the independent external facilitator had been appointed to engage in a consultative process in respect of Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise.
"All he could offer by way of reply was that the appointment of the independent facilitator was being ‘progressed.’
"Since then it would appear that absolutely nothing has been done in terms of providing a formal, approved action plan for the retention and expansion of the services at Portlaoise.
"This is just not acceptable. We have had reports and reviews on the hospital almost every year since 2015.
"We also know that the management and staff at Portlaoise are engaging in a very constructive manner to ensure the delivery of the best possible model of care.
"That work needs to be supported and supplemented by the provision of clear guidance on the future of the hospital with an emphasis on avoiding any downgrading of services.
"At present, Portlaoise hospital is trying to operate and plan for the future in the face of a regional and national policy vacuum.
"The Minister must engage with all stakeholders, including the Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee, and end the uncertainty that hangs over this entire process,” concluded Deputy Nolan.