Cautious welcome for hospital reprieve

The Minister for Health's instruction to halt plans for the closure of the A&E in Navan has received a guarded welcome, with hospital campaigners warning they won't rest until the closure of the A&E is taken off the table permanently.

The HSE has been instructed by Minister Stephen Donnelly to pause all plans for the reconfiguration of services in Our Lady's Hospital, Navan.

“Our bottom line is the deletion of the threat to our hospital for good,” said Deputy Peadar Toibin, chair of the Save Navan Hospital Campaign.

Minister Donnelly's intervention comes as the Save Navan Hospital Campaign was preparing to take thousands onto the streets of Navan in protest at proposals to replace the Emergency Department in Navan with a Medical Assessment Unit.

Minister Thomas Byrne said the Ministers intervention came about as a result of meetings between Minister Donnelly, Minister Damien English, Senator Shane Cassells and himself.

“We have been asking questions for the past few weeks, but not getting answers, about capacity elsewhere,” he said.

Deputy Johnny Guirke said the statement from Minister Donnelly was “temporarily welcomed” as the news of closures and downgrading was only paused.

“I, like most people in Meath, await the news of a permanent solution to our A&E service at Our Lady's Hospital. We have a population of 210,000 people, and need the security of a fully functioning hospital on our doorstep,” he said.

Sinn Fein heath spokesperson, David Cullinane visited Meath today to talk to frontline workers about the hospital.

“I welcome the Minister's announcement, as far it goes, but he will need to engage with local representatives as they need more than a pause,” he said.

“What we have got is a temporary reprieve but now the focus has to be on making it permanent.

“There is nowhere else for patients to go – there isn't capacity in Drogheda or Connolly,” he said.

Deputy Tóibín said the Minister's statement was good news and a victory for the Save Navan Hospital Campaign.

“However the threat to our A&E must be fully lifted. We cannot allow the closure process to simply recommence as soon as the Covid threat recedes.

“Our bottom line is the deletion of the threat to our Hospital for good.  Otherwise we will all be back in the same situation in six months. We will keep the energy  for the campaign up and we will as a campaign meet on Thursday at 8pm to discuss developments”.

“There are 11 adult public ICU beds left available in the whole health system yesterday and yet shockingly, the HSE was on the verge of closing the ICU and emergency beds in Meath. This is scandalous. NE Doc on Call has stated that their service is already beyond capacity in terms of demand and yet the HSE seek to radically add to the record levels of patients that are using that service.

“Staff in Connolly Hospital came out in protest last week due to the pressure that hospital is under and patients are telling me of 11 hour waits in Drogheda A&E.

“One million people are on hospital waiting lists many for years and the HSE is implementing an out of date plan that is 11 years old. The HSE are detached from the reality of so many patients and so many front line workers”.

Deputy Toibin said he has invited each political party to nominate their senior health spokesperson to speak at the rally on 30th of October.

“I will be asking them three very simple questions on the day. Will they commit their party to overturning the HSE decision to close our A&E/ICU? “Will they add the necessary resources to our A&E to ensure that it functions at 100 per cent standard and will they delete for good ,the policy to close our A&E in all government and HSE policy documents? “Until we get a commitment from Government on these three issues our campaign will continue”.

Deputy Toibin said the Campaign has received support from Meath GAA and many other local groups and organisations.