Health bosses have moved to downplay fears hospital reconfiguration changes will lead to the loss or dilution of acute services locally.
HSE Midlands Area Manager Joe Ruane told councillors at a special meeting last week concerns which suggested otherwise were wide of the mark.
Mr Ruane was responding to questions posed by Cllr Peggy Nolan after the Fine Gael representative stated she was concered over the plans.
Despite not being able to go into specific details, Mr Ruane was quick to dismiss fears associated to patient delivery.
“I am not aware of any change of services for people in Longford,” he said.
Under the new plans announced last May, six hospital groupings were originally planned .
These included Dublin North East, Dublin Midlands, Dublin East, South/South West, West/North West and Midwest locations.
Much of that blueprint was devised by Cork Professor John Higgins and his report ‘The Establishment of Hospital Groups as a Transition to Independent Hospital Trusts.’
When those changes come into effect, both Portlaoise and Tullamore Midland Regional Hospitals are to form part of a new Dublin Midlands grouping.
Mullingar, meanwhile, is set to join ten other hospitals as part of neighbouring Dublin East.
Mr Ruane said two of the six hospital groupings were now up and running in an effort to deliver high-quality, safe and cost effective patient care.
As each councillor, one by one, issued their own take on Mr Ruane’s 15 minute address, Cllr Nolan said she was still left unsatisifed by the answers given.
“I have major concerns,” was her short and snappy reply.
“People on the doorstep are very concerned about the reconfiguration of hospitals. That Tullamore and Portlaoise are not in the same reconfiguration as Mullingar is a warning sign.”
Cllr Nolan was just as frank in her criticism of the absence of other HSE officials from the meeting.
“The majority of what I want to ask I can’t even ask,” she stormed.