Fianna Fáil TD for Laois Sean Fleming was informed in Dáil Éireann today by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar that he does not expect to receive the report from the HSE on the future of the A&E department in Portlaoise until September.
Deputy Fleming remarked that the Minister made a previous commitment to publish the report in July.
“The glib decision by the HSE to curtail the A&E hours at Portlaoise hospital was ill informed and not thought through. For this reason I welcome the delay so the matter can now get proper consideration. The Minister said this will involve consultation not just with hospital staff, but also with the GP’s in county Laois and others with an interest in the future of the service.
“In the debate in the Dáil today I highlighted the fact that neither Naas nor Tallaght hospitals could cope with the additional patients if the Portlaoise A&E unit was not a 24 hour service. The Minister conceded that this was a substantial issue that had to be considered. I am pleased that he now accepts this.
“Patient safety and quality of service are the most essential features that we all want to see in Portlaoise. All services in the hospital must be safe. Following the HIQA report, I am pleased that additional staff and a new management structure has been put in place at the maternity unit in the hospital. This proves the maternity area was under resourced and under staffed up until now. Additional resources, staff and new management must be put in place to ensure we have a safe A&E unit for the 38,000 people that use this service each year as happened in the maternity unit.
“Finally I am calling on the HSE to reconsider their original position and to put arrangements in place to ensure patient safety in the A&E department on a 24 hour basis.