A group in its thousands descended on Navan, Co Meath to protest the proposed changes to the hospital’s emergency department.
ast month, the HSE signalled its intent to reconfigure the emergency department in Navan Hospital, which it deems unsafe, and to transfer a number of critically ill patients a day to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
The downgrading of Navan hospital has been debated for sometime but the latest plans have not been well received by many locals and political representatives in the region.
The Save Navan Hospital Group, which is chaired by local Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín, organised today’s rally which got under way at 1pm.
On his way to the protest Deputy Tóibin told Independent.ie that plans to reduce services at the hospital are “ridiculous” as Co Meath’s population is growing rapidly.
“The A&E is the most important piece of health infrastructure that we have in Meath. Thousands of lives in Meath are dependent upon it. In a capacity crisis of A&E overcrowding throughout the country, it is ridiculous and wrong of the Government to close capacity in Meath,” he said.
“They have not provided an alternative pathway to healthcare for people. Their GP referral Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) will not be used by people because people won’t wait 10 days for access to a GP appointment to then go to an MAU in a time of crisis.
“We’re demanding that we have investment in Navan A&E to restore acute surgical services so it can be one of the best and safest in the country. Meath’s population is skyrocketing. Nearly 250,000 people live in the county and the county is growing by 5,000 extra people every year. So, it does not make sense in anyway to close this.”
He argued that the HSE is planning to go ahead with the plans even though Minister Donnelly has asked for a pause.
“We are asking the Minister to introduce some kind of authority onto the HSE,” he added.
Ahead of the protest the group posted messages on Facebook which said: “We have distributed 30,000 leaflets, collected 15,000 petitions and erected hundreds of posters.
“Community groups, sporting organisations, bands, Trade Unions, Businesses, Churches, charities and Civic society groups are mobilising to take part.
“At 1pm tomorrow one of the largest public demonstrations in the history of Meath will take place in support of the most important health infrastructure we have in the county.”
“And: In just over two hours the most important rally in county Meath for decades will take place. Today is D-Day for Navan Hospital A&E. Mobilize your family, friends and work colleagues. Make a stand for the most important health infrastructure we have in County Meath.”
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