Speeches

Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise – Topical Issues Debate

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Speech by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, T.D. On behalf of the Minister for Health, I would like to thank the Deputies for raising this issue. As Minister Varadkar has already stated, there are no plans to close the Emergency Department at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

Following on from the CMO’s report last January on maternity services in the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, and a visit to the hospital by the HSE National Surgical Clinical Programme, the HSE undertook a Performance Diagnostic to ascertain the current performance status of Portlaoise hospital in relation to all aspects of service provision.

The report identified a number of issues and made key recommendations in relation to control, leadership and clinical services at the hospital. The report also pointed to the need for reconfiguration of some services in Portlaoise to ensure that patients are treated in the most appropriate setting by specialist staff that can meet their needs. 

The over-riding concern is to address any patient safety and quality concerns arising.   The HSE is working through an action plan with staff in the hospital to stabilise and improve services in Portlaoise Hospital.

This includes changes required to enhance existing resources and structures at the hospital to address clinical service deficiencies.

A Joint Governance Group has been established to ensure appropriate accountability and oversight of required actions and to incorporate the hospital into the existing governance structures within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, which includes St. James’s and the Coombe, working in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital Group.

A project team has also been formed to support the work of the Governance Group and this team is in the hospital on a regular basis to support staff on the ground.

Immediate actions to stabilise service provision include:

  • The appointment of an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.
  • A temporary Consultant Emergency Physician has been recruited to address the immediate issues in relation to senior-decision making within the Emergency Department.
  • An additional physician post and replacement posts (endocrinology and care of the elderly) are also being advanced.The Joint Governance Group will also examine the future service configuration at Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, including Emergency Department Services, and explore opportunities to develop services such as endoscopy and day surgery.Any potential reconfiguration of services in the future, will be undertaken in a planned and orderly manner and will take account of existing patient flows, demands in other hospitals and the need to develop particular services at Portlaoise in the context of overall service configuration in the Dublin Midlands Group.

On the wider issue raised in relation to retention of funding for 24 hour emergency departments and current number of beds across the system – recent media reports were based on information related to the Department’s submission to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform under the Governments’ Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) exercise.  This Review exercise is carried out every three to four years. The last such Review was completed in 2011. As the Department’s CRE submission is currently under consideration it would not be appropriate  to comment further at this time except to state that it is currently not planned to implement measures contained in that submission.