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Taoiseach addresses issue of Portlaoise Hospital while speaking at Fine Gael event in Mountmellick

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a Fine Gael event in Mountmellick this evening

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he doesn’t envisage “closures, downgrades, or a reduction in services” in the Midlands Hospital in Portlaoise.

Speaking at a Fine Gael event in the Mountmellick Macra Hall this evening – which was attended by party members after the Laois-Offaly AGM but broadcast live on Facebook -the Taoiseach addressed the issue after being questioned by Ballyroan-based Councillor Mary Sweeney.

Cllr Sweeney asked the Taoiseach about the proposed HSE downgrading of services at the hospital.

“A straight question,” said host, MEP Mairead McGuinness. “Have you a clear answer.”

“Not as clear as you’d like,” responded Mr Varadkar. “I am aware of the situation and have been to the hospital as Minister of Health.

“Simon Harris keeps me updated on the current situation. There is a HSE plan,” he added before saying that the current minister will now plans to engage with the relevant stakeholders.

“He wants to consult and wants to put a plan in place that will have the support.”

“From my point of view I don’t envisage closures, or downgrades or reduction in services. That wouldn’t work. Naas or Tullamore wouldn’t be able to cope.”

He did say that there will “be some changes” and went on to say that if someone has a stroke or a heart attack, they need “very specialised care”.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.