Review completed into planned reconfiguration of Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan

Protesters intend to picket HSE head office amid suggestions that proposed changes will go ahead

A review into the planned reconfiguration of Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan has been completed and protesters intend to picket the HSE head office amid suggestions that the changes will go ahead.

In August, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced a review of the plans to close the emergency department following political controversy over the proposals. Speaking on Sunday, a spokesman for the HSE said: “The review is now concluding and will be considered by the HSE.”

A number of sources have said that there is a determination in the HSE to continue with the reconfiguration although issues around resourcing may be looked at. The original plan was to convert the emergency department (ED) to a 24-hour medical assessment unit where patients would have to be referred by a GP, and critically ill patients would be transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

Mr Donnelly highlighted a series of concerns over the plans, and subsequently instructed the HSE not to proceed with the reconfiguration of the ED, which was originally to happen at the end of June.

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Senior clinicians in Drogheda also raised concerns about the capacity there for the diverted patients.

The HSE board met again last Friday, but sources were reluctant to say what the final decision was in relation to the hospital.

The Save Navan Hospital Campaign has now said it will picket the HSE head office on Friday, October 14th.

Head of the campaign and leader of the party Aontu Peadar Tóibín described the review as a “sham”.

“The review was carried out, in the main, by the HSE staff who made the original decision to close the A&E in Navan. When people review their own decision it seldom leads to different or improved decision. Also, the HSE refused to provide a position on the review to representatives of the local community. This is despite the Minister for Health promising in the Dáil that there would be proper engagement with the local community. There was no engagement at all with community representatives.

“The review specifically prevented the option of investing into Navan A&E to improve its service from being even considered. The review was rushed and did not engage properly with medical staff in Drogheda. The review had the result hard-wired into the terms of reference. This is the opposite to empirical research.”

He said that he has spoken to medical sources inside the emergency department in the hospital and “they have told me that the A&E in Navan has never been as busy”.

“On Monday two weeks ago, 105 patients presented to Navan A&E. 50 of these would have ended up in Drogheda if Navan was closed. Last week there were 13 people waiting on trolleys in Navan A&E. Covid cases are on the rise daily. A senior medic has said that currently the A&E in Navan is as busy as an A&E in a large Dublin hospital. GP waiting times have risen to three weeks in some cases in Meath.

“All of this capacity would have been shut and these patients would waiting for hours in Drogheda and elsewhere if it were not for the Save Navan Hospital Campaign and the tens of thousands of people that have marched to keep health services open. The decision by the HSE is reckless and a threat to health.”

The HSE previously signalled it intends to go ahead with the planned reconfiguration despite the pause and review ordered by Mr Donnelly.

The plan has caused political controversy as well as prompting concern from senior medics. On June 21st, Mr Donnelly revealed that he told the HSE to pause the closure and then last month he announced a review of the services. However senior HSE officials, who noted the possibility of the Minister’s review, agreed at a meeting on June 29th that the reconfiguration would go ahead in September.

The meeting of the HSE board heard that there were “significant and serious patient safety concerns”.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times