SINN Féin TD Brian Stanley has called for an immediate five- to ten-year plan to be put in place to recruit and attract qualified staff for Portlaoise hospital.
Speaking a week after the health minister Simon Harris visited the hospital and gave no indication of what plans were in place for future services in the hospital, deputy Stanley said: “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%. That is 20% of the beds are free, with 90% capacity the accepted limit. Currently, Portlaoise hospital is working at 110% capacity by using trolleys in the A&E and along the corridors. This poses a serious risk to patients’ health.
“However, 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 A&E consultant to be filled but the hospital is finding it difficult to recruit because of the uncertainty surrounding its 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 A&E department will not be secured. Laois GPs state that it is inappropriate in the extreme to consider the downgrading of services at Portlaoise hospital.”
“It is vital that the health minister 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.”