Readmission rates are higher at hospitals in the midlands
Hospitals in the midlands have a higher than normal rate of patients who have undergone surgery having to be re-admitted in the next month.
Troubled Portlaoise Hospital, along with Mullingar and Tullamore, is more likely to see patients return after discharge than the national average, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE).
While the readmission could be related to the patient's illness it can also be due to complications arising out of surgery.
No more than 3pc should be back in hospital within a month but it was at 4pc in the three midlands hospitals, as well as St Luke's in Kilkenny.
The figures will put yet more unwelcome attention on Portloaise Hospital, which is at the centre of a controversial draft report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) which investigated safety standards across the hospital.
HSE officials and politicians are held to account for a range of failures, including lack of monitoring and opposition to scaling down its activities, including its 24-hour emergency department and complex surgery in order to improve safety.
The HSE is disputing a range of criticism. It is understood it will be refuting claims that senior officials failed to visit the hospital after an RTE 'Prime Time' programme last year, which highlighted a number of baby deaths in the maternity unit over six years which were all in similar circumstances.
The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group insists that Portlaoise is now safe and it is benefiting from a range of new medical and nursing staff.
The final Hiqa investigation report is expected to be published later this month.
Meanwhile, the advocacy group Patient Focus said yesterday that "it is profoundly depressing to watch the HSE attempting with all its power to prevent the publication of the Hiqa report into Portlaoise Hospital".
Spokeswoman Sheila O Connor said: "Sadly, it is no surprise. It mirrors the strange decision not to establish a helpline for worried families in the immediate aftermath of the 'Prime Time' programme. Patient Focus had to fill the vacuum.
"If it is true that senior HSE management did not visit the hospital to assess safety at that time, then that is beyond belief.
"It is difficult not to conclude that the HSE sees the tragic facts about Portlaoise as dirty linen best not aired in public."
A spokeswoman for the HSE said a helpline was set in the days after the programme.
The draft Hiqa report claims warnings about the safety of maternity services in Portloaise were made by the State Claims Agency, which compensates patients, as far back as 2007.
It offered to have an independent expert to assess standards at the unit but this was declined by the HSE at regional level.
Meanwhile, there were 48 "serious reportable events" reported to the HSE from 20 of the 49 acute hospitals last year.
This involves death or serious injury to a patient which is regarded as preventable.