Row over whether hospital is being 'downgraded'
Fianna Fáil has rubbished Minister Charlie Flanagan's claims that Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise is not being downgraded.
Laois-Offaly TD Sean Fleming said it would be "nonsense" to describe it as anything else.
The troubled hospital will no longer carry out complex surgery, and the opening hours of the emergency department will be reduced, leaving it operating from 8am to 8pm in the interests of patient safety.
However Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent: "There is no downgrading at all, Minister Varadkar said this morning that there is no downgrading in Portlaoise hospital. I'm satisfied that there are complex surgical procedures that cannot be carried out in Portlaoise.
"My priority was the maintenance, development, further enhancement of maternity services at Portlaoise Hospital and that will happen.
"The damning Hiqa report has got to be taken very seriously by everybody involved ... I am working with the HSE to ensure patient safety for Portlaoise and that everybody can have confidence of the very high degree of services that are available in the hospital."
However, Mr Fleming said: "I don't know how anyone can say that this is not a downgrade."
In yesterday's Irish Indepen-dent, it was stated in a caption that Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed the downgrade of Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. As the story made clear, Mr Flanagan welcomed the consultation process and did not accept that the hospital is being downgraded. We are happy to clarify this.