Local GPs informed about 'transformation' of services at Navan Hospital beginning with diversion of ambulances


HSE plans to stop ambulances from bringing ill patients to Navan from 12th December as part of the wind down of emergency services at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, local GPs have been informed.

Staff at Our Lady's were informed of the change in a letter from management yesterday (Tuesday).

The letter said the second phase of the transformation would see the Emergency Department at Navan Hospital "reconfigured" to a 24 hour Medical Assessment Unit.

However, it said that Phase 2 has not yet been sanctioned by the Minister.

Clincians were told there will be a partial ambulance bypass of OLHN from the 12th December under Phase One of the HSE transformation.

At present, the hospital is already bypassed for stroke, trauma, cardiac arrest, paediatrics and obstetrics patients.

The updated ambulance bypass protocol has been agreed by the Minister for Health and the HSE, "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".

However, the HSE said that no agreement had been reached with Mr Donnelly on the reconfiguration of the Emergency Department at Navan or a full ambulance bypass protocol.

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

Correspondence issued to local doctors stated that "from this date (12th December) ambulances will no longer take very high acuity illness. The ambulance bypass will also be for patients with acute abdominal pain. All other ambulances will continue to bring patients, as before, to OLHN." (Trauma and acute strokes and MIs are already bypassed).

The Second Phase of the transformation would see the Emergency Department at OLHN "reconfigured" to a 24-hour Medical Assessment Unit.

GPs were informed that this phase two is planned for early New Year with a date to be confirmed, and that there will be three main pathways for accessing the MAU after phase two occurs:

(1) GPs will be able, post assessment of patient by phone or face to face, to refer a patient to the MAU using healthlink, as an alternative to phoning.

(2) The ambulance service will also be able to triage patients, make an MAU appointment for suitable patients and then bring the patient to the MAU.

(3) There will be a triage service for patients to enable those who cannot get to see their GP, or those who don't have a GP, to use for assessment as to whether or not they need an MAU appointment.

"If the patient needs an appointment the triage service will make it.

"The details of these pathways will be worked out before phase two happens. Phase two has to be signed off politically.

"The face to face LICC (Local Integrated Care Ctte) agenda next Tuesday 6th December will have an altered agenda, and will now centre around updating attendees about the current status of transformation of OLHN, with Qs and As.

Campaigners battling to halt the replacement of the Emergency Department at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan with a Medical Assessment Unit say the HSE proposals if implemented will leave Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda under "intolerable pressure".

The plans have met with fierce opposition from the public and local representatives alike with a host of protests held against the decision.

Cathaoirleach of The Save Navan Hospital Campaign, Peadar Tóibín TD has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister for Health on the emerging news. "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".

The HSE has been contacted for comment