‘The future of Portlaoise Hospital is secure!’ – Action group claim victory five years after battle began

    Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee - Press Release - 6th December 2022

    Five years on from the start of the battle to keep Portlaoise Hospital fully open, the group behind it are satisfied that they have won.

    On December 2 2017, the “Light for Lives” rally took thousands of people onto the streets of Portlaoise to protest against leaked HSE plans to downgrade the Hospital.

    Five years on, members of the Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee (PHAC) were on hand to hear Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly confirm that those plans had been shelved.

    Furthermore the Minister was there to announce a €14 million development of a new Respiratory Assessment Unit, an extension to the existing Paediatric Unit as well as additional healthcare accommodation over two floors, office space and a re-designed foyer/reception area.

    The Portlaoise Hospital Action Committee consists of Tommy Timmons (Chairman), John Hanniffy (Secretary), Sam Warren (Acting PRO), plus committee members: Harry Allen, Dick Sides, Ted Squire, Eimear Holland, Dom Dunne, Melanie Drumm, Stephen McGinn, Shane Dunne, Austin Stack, Elaine Dunne and Michael Scully.

    Following the meeting, a spokesperson for the group confirmed they are now satisfied.

    They said: “PHAC are satisfied that five years of campaigning have paid off in securing this vital service for Portlaoise, Laois and the Hospital’s wider hinterland.

    “The Committee would like to acknowledge the whole-hearted support from the Public from the off, allied to the exemplary work and commitment of the Staff of the Hospital – especially during the pandemic – Dr. John Connaughton and his Team on the Medical side and Michael Knowles (recently retired) on the management side, that enabled the case for the retention of services at the hospital to be made.

    “The guidance, advice and support from the local GP community lead by Doctors Sean Fleming, Michelle Byrne, Gerry White, Sean Montague as well as Consultant Paediatrician Dr. Paul Gallagher and Professor John Patrick Browne from the School of Public Health at UCC enabled the Committee to produce its own Stakeholders Report on the Hospital which was authored by Richard Moore of MComm Communications.

    “This report was central to the Committee’s ability to put forward a strong case for the promotion of the Hospital and the retention of its critical services.

    “Our local media, print, radio and social were instrumental in our being able to make our case and keeping it to the forefront of Regional and National debate.

    “Finally, the honest endeavours of our Local Representatives also needs to be acknowledged.

    “From all sides of the divide their commitment to the cause was genuine and their support unwavering.

    “Our thanks to Deputy Brian Stanley for ‘unearthing’ the infamous Susan O’Reilly Report in time for us to thwart its implementation and to Minister for State Sean Fleming for securing the support of Minister Donnelly and finally delivering for the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise the future it so richly deserves.”

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    Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.