Updated: 05/12/16 : 12:14:23
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Future of Midlands Regional Hospital uncertain - HIQA

The future of the Midlands Regional Hospital is uncertain and significant risks remain, according to a HIQA review.

It's a follow up on the damning report the independent health regulator made into maternity services at the hospital last year.

The initial HIQA report into maternity services at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise was ordered after the deaths of five babies at the hospital.

 The review carried out this year found there had been significant progress made, but that areas of concern remain.  In relation to maternity services it says recruitment has been difficult given the lack of certainty about the hospital's future.

There also needs to be significant capital investment - and the report finds the main reason staff to patient ratios have improved is because of a reduced number of births.

Despite an increase in staff and funding the review finds the hospital doesn't have the capability to manage all the patients that may present to the emergency department.

There's also an overreliance on costly agency staff.

The most significant change in services since the initial report has been the cessation of complex surgery, with only limited other change to general services.

The review says a clear plan for the future of services at the Midlands Regional Hospital is underway and needs to be brought forward to establish a clear future for the hospital - which HIQA staff have described as uncertain.