Furthermore, there is a “continuing lack of certainty around services at the hospital” the review has found.
Published yesterday, the review is an examination of the implementation of the eight recommendations included in Hiqa’s report into the hospital in May 2015.
The report came about as a result of the deaths of infant babies at the hospital.
Yesterday’s review noted improvements in the operation of the hospital thanks to extra staff and funding. However, it said difficulties still existed.
“The continuing lack of certainty around services at the hospital has led to difficulty in recruiting and keeping staff and an ongoing reliance on expensive agency staff, which has significant financial implications for the hospital and the sustainability of services,” read the review.
Despite positive changes in Portlaoise, the uncertainty about its future is a cause for concern.
“Notwithstanding the significant improvements in corporate and clinical governance, at the time of the review, an agreed approach among the relevant decision makers on the expected range of clinical services that Portlaoise Hospital can safely deliver has yet to be agreed and published.
“This lack of an overall strategy for the direction of the hospital within the hospital group raised significant concerns in terms of the sustainability of current service arrangements,” the review said.
Mark Molloy, whose baby son Mark died in 2012 following his birth at the hospital, said he was “very disappointed” with the review.
“Obviously, it’s unacceptable that the HSE is taking this amount of time to make a decision on the future of Portlaoise and families have gone to great lengths to highlight these issues over the past 10 years and in our case over the last five years.
“To still be uncertain about the future of the hospital is unacceptable at this point in time,” he told Today with Seán O’Rourke on RTE Radio.
The HSE released a statement after the publication of the Hiqa review but it did not contain a definitive comment on the hospital’s future. The HSE said: “In compliance with Hiqa’s May 2015 report, the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG), in collaboration with the Acute Hospitals Division of the HSE, National Clinical Programme leaders and the National Ambulance Service, has developed a draft action plan for hospital services in the midlands.
“This plan has now been submitted to the Department of Health for consideration.”
The DMRH also released a similar statement.
In a statement released on behalf of Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday afternoon, his department said: “The Department of Health and the HSE are committed to securing and developing the role of Portlaoise Hospital within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.
“In this context, additional funding will be provided to facilitate the opening next year of a new Medical Assessment Unit at Portlaoise.”