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Stanley welcomes Minister’s commitments on Portlaoise Hospital but says funding for new maternity unit is essential

29 September, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Having secured a special debate with Minister for Health James Reilly in the Dáil today on the issue of Portlaoise Hospital, Sinn Féin TD for Laois Offaly Brian Stanley secured commitments that the status of the Hospital will not change and called for guaranteed funding for a new maternity unit.

The Laois Offaly TD said;

“I called for this debate with Minister Reilly on Portlaoise Hospital to address the discrepancy between the HSE’s statement of the 22nd September and the Minister’s own statement on the 23rd, as well as the issues regarding the future of the Maternity Unit, the Intensive Care Unit and the A&E Department at the Hospital.

“There is a huge concern among staff, patients and the community in general due to the confusion caused by the Minister for Health and the HSE within 24 hours of each other.

“On the 22nd September, the HSE stated that recent HIQA reports “will ultimately give rise to change in the role of smaller hospitals, which includes the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise and Loughlinstown Hospital.” Only a day later Minister Reilly stated that “Portlaoise is a Model 3 hospital and will remain a Model 3 Hospital…that this is Government policy and will not change.” These contradicting statements have led to serious confusion.

“Portlaoise Hospital is the second busiest hospital outside of Dublin and has demonstrated its efficiency by keeping the cost per attendance at €149 per person. During this debate I also raised the issue of the need for a new maternity unit which was promised by the HSE three years ago at a cost of €8million. In response to my question Minister Reilly said there is no provision at present for this. Whatever the status of hospital, due to the volume of patients the budget of €42million is wholly inadequate for a busy regional hospital and this must be increased. I welcome the Minister’s confirmation that the status of the hospital will not change. It is now up to him to go back to the HSE and explain this position to them.

“Further to this I also welcome the Minister’s statement that there are “no plans to reduce services at this hospital” in relation to the ICU, and the proposition to appoint a Clinical Director at the Hospital. I also pressed the Minister on potential plans by the HSE to move the Maternity Unit and the Minister replied that there are no plans to remove maternity services in Portlaoise to hospitals in the Dublin region. This is to be welcomed but I am calling on the Minister for make available the requisite €8million capital funding for the new maternity unit.

“While I welcome the assurances from the Minister regarding the current services, real challenges face the services due to the inadequate budget and the lack of funding for a proper maternity unit and we must continue to press these matters.”

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