Move to stop ambulances bringing patients to Navan ED described as a ‘scandalous' decision


The HSE's plans to stop ambulances bringing Meath patients to Navan A&E next month as part of the downgrading of the service has been labelled a "scandalous" move.

It is understood that the new directive will come into effect on December 12th with patients from Meath instead being brought to the emergency department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. The move if implemented will leave the Louth hospital under "intolerable pressure", that's according to Cathaoirleach of The Save Navan Hospital Campaign, Peadar Tóibín TD.

Plans for the replacement of the Emergency Department at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan with a Medical Assessment Unit were revealed earlier this year. The announcement was met with fierce opposition from the public and local representatives alike with a host of protests held against the decision.

The local TD has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister for Health on the emerging news. Commenting Peadar Tóibín stated: "This is scandalous news. It is absolutely incredible that at the height of the winter surge on our A&Es, when pressure on Navan and Drogheda A&Es is literately out the door, when corridors are full of patients for the lack of capacity and space and when staff are leaving Ireland because of the pressure that they are under, that the HSE would seek to redirect Ambulances from Navan to Drogheda. This would have the effect of part closing the A&E in Navan as it would significantly reduce through put of patients in Navan. It would also leave Drogheda A&E under intolerable pressure".

"This decisions is in keeping with the plan that the HSE had at the start of this year. They were forced to bin their 30th of June closure date in large part due to the campaign led by the Save Navan Hospital Campaign and the outright opposition of senior clinicians working at the coal face of Drogheda Hospital who stated that closure would be a threat to life and health of patients. I understand the plan to stop ambulances bring patients to Navan HSE is also opposed by senior clinicians in Drogheda for the same threat to life and health reasons as before".

"We understand the ambulance divert plan is timed to coincide with the cabinet reshuffle and the potential move of Stephen Donnelly out of the department and before any new minister gets time to get his or her feet under the ministerial desk.

“If this is the case, it's a deeply cynical anti-democratic move and the Minister for Health must publicly put a stop to it now.

"The long term solution to the pressure on the A&E sector and the provision of health care to the 220,000 people who live in Meath is the proper funding of Consultant cover in Navan A&E so it can add to the badly needed capacity in the region. If the HSE proceed, we will have no option but to challenge the action on the streets and in the courts".

In a statement the HSE said:

"We would like to clarify a number of important points in relation to the letter issued by hospital management to staff at OLHN on November 29th.

"The HSE has not received agreement from the Minister for Health to proceed with the reconfiguration of the Emergency Department at Our Lady's Hospital Navan (OLHN), or to a full ambulance bypass protocol.

"The HSE has submitted a review of capacity to the Minister, as requested. This review remains under consideration by the Minister and his government colleagues.

"The Minister has agreed with an update of the existing ambulance bypass protocols from 12th December to address urgent patient safety matters for the small number of patients presenting in ambulances to Navan who are critically or seriously unwell or likely to deteriorate.

"Ambulance bypass protocols are already in place for paediatric, obstetric, major trauma, heart attack and stroke patients."