A recent public meeting regarding maintaining essential and lifesaving services, in Portlaoise General Hospital, was extremely well attended. There was universal consensus, that Portlaoise Midlands Hospital, is a fundamental service for over 250,000 citizens from Counties Laois, Offaly, Carlow, Tipperary and Kildare who avail of the hospital. In 2016, almost 30,000 people were treated in the A+E Department. This life saving unit, is under constant review and as a consequence creates a sense of volatility and anxiety to staff and patients alike within the hospital.
A recent leaked draft report, clearly makes for harrowing consequences regarding reducing this essential service to a mere mid-doc on call unit. Such proposals are utterly appalling and must be vehemently opposed by we the people whose lives depend upon such services. This is a real life and death issue. Shame on an out of touch health service executive that allows such crazy proposals to cause deep anxiety, especially felt by vulnerable members of all our community.
Our health is our wealth……I wonder. Does the Minister of health know what it’s like for elderly parishioners hobbling along with pain in their hips and knees for months awaiting surgery? Or is it more pragmatic to suggest wealth sustains health. Top class essential services in private hospitals are but improving and never reduced. A two-tier health service is at the core of why its essence is deeply dysfunctional and divisive. Not all citizens tick the necessary boxes in a Republic that seems to me becoming much more polemical. The growing gap between those who have and those who can’t afford. Those who feel the strengthening effects of a growing economy and those whose lives seem to be consistently lacking in opportunity and hope. Those who can get up early in the morning and those who for many reasons stay in bed. Poverty of spirit is a real issue. I’m very conscious of the mental health services in Portlaoise and the challenges for those who try to engage and avail of these most important services.
The clergy of Portlaoise parish cover duty 365 days of the year 24/7. We know that heart attacks, road traffic accidents, tragedies don’t just happen during the proposed 9-5 daylight hours.
All too often it is in the darkness of the early hours, our duty phone calls us to minister in real life and death situations. We also are deeply inspired by the staff of Portlaoise Midlands hospital, women and men who in difficult and intense circumstances give a professional and outstanding commitment to care for the sick and the dying. One can only imagine how they feel with the constant talking down of services they offer with such an exemplary and professional manner. These public servants are the real heroes of our health service. Front line professionals that carry the dead weight of an out of touch bureaucracy that has become the HSE.
Pleading to maintain life saving services here in Portlaoise isn’t about being parochial or engaging in parish pump politics, rather it’s a fundamental human right and need. We pay taxes in the Midlands as well as in the greater Dublin area where hospitals of excellence prevail. I’m also aware that one of Europe’s most highly secured prisons is situated beside the hospital. Surely the cost and security of transporting dangerous criminals to Tullamore or Dublin must also be considered, not to mention the huge security risk, to the lives of heroic prison officers, again front line people, putting their lives at risk in order to keep ours safe. I appeal to all who read this article to continue to engage with this issue, an issue for once and for all that must be dealt with. Our Hospital services must be maintained and hopefully upgraded.