Laois Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has said that claims that the future of services at Portlaoise Hospital are secure due to the Slaintecare Plan are based on a “wing and a prayer”.
Deputy Stanley’s comments follow on from a statement issued by Minister Charlie Flanagan before Christmas that said that that any HSE decision to remove services or downgrade the facility will be superseded by the Government’s Sláintecare plan.
Minister Flanagan said that he had been assured by his cabinet colleague Minister for Health Simon Harris “that any health service reform or reconfiguration will only take place within the implementation of the Slaintecare plan for regional health areas”.
However, Deputy Stanley has responded by saying that “what is being dished up by Government to the people of Laois and beyond, is sugar coated promises in the jaws of a pending election”.
“The facts are that Sláintecare is a plan to create a single tier national health system, based on equal access regardless of ability to pay and expanding primary and community care,” said Deputy Stanley in a statement.
“While this in itself is good, nowhere in Sláintecare does it provide one word that would give any ‘certainty’ around the future of Portlaoise.
“Nothing has replaced the HSE Plan that was leaked to me in October 2017 and which set out in black and white that core services such as A&E were going out of the Hospital.
“Statements by Minister Charlie Flanagan that the Health Minister ‘has made it clear that any reconfiguration plans are superseded by Sláintecare’ provide no certainty for Portlaoise. Simon Harris will most likely not even be Minister for Health in six months time!
“The only way to provide certainty on services in Portlaoise is for Government to set out in clear language a plan for the Hospital’s status and all the services that will be provided in it including A&E.
“This is the minimum required to enable recruitment and retention of clinicians etc and for the future development of the facility.
“Fine Gael ministers have had nine years to come up with such a plan but to date we have not seen anything that would even resemble this.
“What is being dished up by Government to the people of Laois and beyond, is sugar coated promises in the jaws of a pending election.
“From past experience people in the community know that these can be bad for your health.”