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Dublin: 16°C Saturday 25 September 2021

'Save our A&E': Thousands attend protest to protect services at Portlaoise hospital

It has been proposed that the hospital be downgraded.

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE attended a protest outside Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise last night, calling on the government to protect its A&E services.

In a HSE report, leaked to the Sunday Business Post some weeks ago, it was proposed that the hospital be downgraded, because the numbers attending that are not sufficient to appoint the number of critical care consultants needed.

Attendees, including many local politicians, called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to take the steps to save the hospital.

Among those was Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Addressing the crowds, he vowed to “look you in the eye and say to you that I will continue to do my utmost to preserve, maintain and improve services at our regional hospital in Portlaoise, because our lives matter”, the Leinster Express reported.

Concerns have been raised in reports by Hiqa in the past about standards in the hospital.

Harris recently told the Dáil that “governance and management arrangements in Portlaoise Hospital have been strengthened, additional clinical staff have been appointed and staff training, hospital culture and communications have improved”.

Addressing the Dáil on the matter last week, however, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming said that “the emergency department, maternity department, paediatric care unit, intensive care unit and all inpatient surgery in Portlaoise” would be closed under the plans.

He added that “the regional manager effectively only sees Portlaoise as a glorified health centre dealing with minor injuries and day procedures”.

In that same debate, Fine Gael TD Jim Daly said that Minister Harris would be announcing a decision on Portlaoise hospital soon.

He said: “The Minister, Deputy Harris, is committed to securing and further developing the role of the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise as a constituent hospital within the Dublin Midlands hospital group. He has said he will bring clarity to this matter in the coming weeks.”

Read: Varadkar ‘ashamed’ of patient treatment at Portlaoise hospital

Read: Woman gives birth to baby that doctors told her had been dead for weeks

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Sean Murray

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