Any more overcrowding at Naas Hospital will affect the “people’s lives and dignity”, according to independent Naas councillor Sorcha O’Neill.
She was responding to claims by fellow councillor Darren Scully (FG) that fears over the impact of a closure of the Accident and Emergency department at Portlaoise Hospital on Naas Hospital are “scaremongering”.
Cllr O’Neill said: “The people should be scared of the prospect and fallout if this downgrade happens. This is peoples' lives and dignity we are talking about here. Naas Hospital is already over burdened and under resourced.”
She said there is a need to raise awareness locally “and fight for the patients and the future of the hospital”.
She added that people should be able to communicate their opposition to the decision makers.
She said a similar downgrading of services has already happened in Limerick and in the North East so “it is hardly an obscure idea”.
Cllr O'Neill criticised Fine Gael for “hiding information and sweeping issues” under the carpet.
While no downgrading of Portlaoise Hospital has been announced, there are fears that this will happen — with a consequent increase in demand on Naas Hospital.
However Cllr Scully said nothing has been decided.
And when he wrote to the Minister for Health he was told that the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (an umbrella group within the Health Service Executive), of which Naas and Portlaoise are part, has come up with a draft plan for a new model of service delivery at Portlaoise.
This plan was revised in September and is being considered by the Department of Health before the opinions of patients, staff and the community are sought.
As reported last week, the HSE has said that less than half of the patients from County Laois who availed of hospital day ward services last year came to hospital in Portlaoise.
Most (55%) go to a hospital in Dublin or to the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore .