Long-term plan needed for Portlaoise Hospital to secure funding and staff – Stanley

    TD housing
    Brian Stanley

    A five to ten year plan must be put in place immediately for Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise if it is attract qualified staff and secure the necessary capital investment, according to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.

    “Without a structured, cohesive plan in place the hospital will not be adequately resourced and will find it impossible to attract the required staff which are so badly needed. This is already a problem.

    The preferred bed capacity in a hospital is 80%, i.e. 20% of the beds are free, with 90% capacity the accepted limit. At present Portlaoise Hospital is working at 110% capacity by using trolleys in the ED and along the corridors and this poses a serious risk to patients’ health,” Deputy Stanley said. However, he said simply supplying extra beds will not solve the problem as extra staff will also be required and these are not available.

    “With regard to staffing levels, Portlaoise currently has 660 WTEs (Whole Time Equivalents) including almost 60 agency staff. There are a number of vacant maternity posts and general nursing posts as well as another temporary ED Consultant to be filled but the Hospital is finding it difficult to recruit because of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the hospital.

    “Without a long term plan the Maternity Unit will not be upgraded, the proposed new Out Patients Department on the Block Road will not be built and the future of the Emergency Department will not be secured,” he said.

    He noted that Laois GPs state that it is “inappropriate in the extreme to consider the downgrade of services at MRH Portlaoise”.

    Deputy Stanley stressed it is “vital that Health Minister, Simon Harris, immediately removes all the long standing uncertainty surrounding Portlaoise Hospital and announces a long term plan to secure its future and to upgrade services appropriate to a Model 3 Hospital. He received that message loud and clear when he visited the Hospital recently”.

    There has been much speculation on a potential downgrade of Portlaoise hospital, but during the visit by Minister Harris to the hospital he was non-committal on its future.

    “I want to say very clearly to staff, to patients and members of the public and their public representatives that no decision has been made in relation to Portlaoise. There is no fait accompli here.

    There has been no decision made. I believe that it is very important that there is significant consultation with the people of the midlands. I think it is important that the views of the general practitioners are heard as well,” Minister Harris said following the visit.

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