A group in the thousands descended on Navan, Co. Meath to protest proposed changes to the hospital’s emergency department.
Last month the HSE signaled its intention to reconfigure the emergency department at Navan Hospital, which it believes is unsafe, and to transfer a number of critically ill patients to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda on a daily basis.
The downgrading of Navan Hospital has been under discussion for some time, but the recent plans have not been well received by many locals and political figures in the region.
The Save Navan Hospital Group, of which Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín is the chairman, organized today’s rally, which started at 13:00.
On the way to the protest, Deputy Tóibin told Independent.ie that plans to reduce the hospital’s services are “ridiculous” as Co Meath’s population is growing rapidly.
“The ER is the most important piece of healthcare infrastructure we have in Meath. Thousands of lives in Meath depend on it. In a capacity crisis of A&E overcrowding across the country, it is ridiculous and wrong for the Government to close capacity in Meath,” he said.
“They have not provided people with an alternative route to health care. Their GP Referral Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) is not used by people because people don’t wait 10 days to access a GP appointment and then go to a MAU in a time of crisis.
“We are demanding that we invest in Navan A&E to restore acute surgical services so it can be one of the best and safest in the country. The population of Meath skyrockets. Almost 250,000 people live in the county and the county is growing by 5,000 additional people each year. So there’s no point in closing this anyway.”
He argued that the HSE plans to go ahead with the plans despite Secretary Donnelly asking for a break.
“We are asking the Minister to put in place some sort of authority over the HSE,” he added.
Before the protest, the group posted messages on Facebook saying: “We distributed 30,000 leaflets, collected 15,000 petitions and put up hundreds of posters.
“Community groups, sports organizations, bands, unions, businesses, churches, charities and civil society groups are mobilizing to participate.
“Tomorrow at 1pm there will be one of the largest public demonstrations in Meath history in support of the vital 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. Stand up for the most important healthcare infrastructure we have in County Meath.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/save-navan-hospital-campaign-thousands-attending-protest-this-afternoon-41827413.html Save Navan Hospital campaign: Thousands take part in protest this afternoon