Cllrs united in condemnation of HSE proposals to close A&E

A councillor told a meeting of Meath County Council this week about how he had to call an ambulance for his brother who lived seven minutes drive from Tallaght hospital yet had to wait five hours for the ambulance tp arrive.

Cllr Gerry O’Connor was speaking during a debate when councillors gave strong backing for a notice of motion tabled by Sinn Fein Cllr Michael Gallagher that the council write to the Minister for Health expressing strong opposition to any change in A&E arrangements at Navan hospital.

Cllr Gallagher told the meeting that Hse had told the management of the hospital five weeks ago that they were closing the A&E department. There was no plan for where the patients would go – Drogheda hospital and Connolly hospital were overcrowded.

He was disgusted with the HSE that they would consider such a move in the middle of a pandemic.

“If this is supposed to be forward thinking then we are going nowhere with our health service. This is the fourth time in 11 years that they have tried this. I congratulate the people of Meath who came out in their thousands last Saturday and I congratulate the Save Navan Hospital Committee for organising it”.

He said it was the people of Meath who had kept the Navan facility open so far. Down through the years they had seen plans for a regional hospital but that seemed to have been shelved completely.

While the Minister for Health had put a “pause” on the closure, this problem was going to come back to the people of Meath again. There had been a big rise in population in Meath and here was the biggest mining operation in the country at Navan so those were good reasons for retaining A&E services.

Cllr Paddy Meade said members of the staff were contacting him and other councillors about the pending closure but when councillors sent emails to Hse asking for information they got no response. He warned that the Minister had used the word “paused” so there was no guarantee that the A&E would not close. Cllr Emer Toibin said that the momentum that had started several weeks ago when the closure was announced should be kept up.

Cllr Brian Fitzgerald said that this issue was mentioned many years ago when the North Eastern Health Board was being disbanded. In fact, one of the biggest mistakes made in the country had been the abolition of the health boards which at that time had officials who were made responsible by public representatives and others on the boards.

“There doesn’t seem to be anybody accountable now except to an Oireachtas committee every year, which is not good enough in my opinion. Years ago, New Zealand centralised their health services but they soon found that the regional system was the best one”.

Cllrs Elaine McGinty, Aisling O’Neill, Damien O’Reilly, Damien O’Reilly, Nick Killian, Gillian Toole, Gerry O’Connor, Padraig Fitzsimons, Wayne Harding and Noel French also spoke in the debate.

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