Portlaoise hospital march in 2017 after downgrade plans emerged
The Minister for Health has thanked Portlaoise hospital staff for the efforts during the Covid-19 crisis but he has not provided a reassurance on the future of services to be provided.
Minister Stephen Donnelly issued a statement in response to an insistence by Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley that a downgrade cannot be considered in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Health issued response said Minister Donnelly would like to thank all staff at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise and all healthcare workers across the country for their invaluable contribution to the provision of both Covid and non-Covid care during this pandemic.
The statement then outlined the current stance in relation to the proposed downgrade outlined in the reconfiguration plans that emerged in 2017. Minister Donnelly is the fourth health Minister to be faced with making a decision on the hospital's future since 2014 since it was plunged into crisis over deaths a the maternity unit.
"The Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise has been the focus of a number of investigations and reports in recent years. The reports point to the need to reconfigure some services to ensure that patients are treated in the most appropriate setting by specialist staff who can safely meet their needs.
"Against that backdrop, the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group submitted a draft action plan for a new model of clinical service delivery at the hospital. That plan takes account of the need to develop services at Portlaoise in the context of developing a model of service provision to span the Hospital Group.
"In recent years the focus has been on supporting the hospital to develop and enhance management capability, implementing changes required to address clinical service deficiencies, and incorporating the hospital into the governance structures within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.
"This Government is committed to investing in services, capital projects and staffing at Portlaoise hospital. The hospital has made considerable infrastructural improvements in recent years to improve the service user experience.
"These capital developments along with considerable service developments and additional recruitment of staff further solidifies the commitment to securing and further developing the role of the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise as a constituent hospital within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group," said the minister.
The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group report prepared in 2017 proposed that A&E, ICU, paediatrics, maternity and most surgery be removed from Portlaoise hospital. Services in other hospitals would be upgraded under the reconfiguration proposals. The Minister gave an update on the status of this proposal.
"While no decision has yet been taken on the draft action plan, it is important that in any consideration of services at the hospital, patient safety and patient outcomes are the priority. It is also important that any reconfiguration of Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise is undertaken in the context of, and aligned with, the overall Slaintecare process and the progression of the regional health areas," concluded the statement.