The decision to close Navan A&E has been labelled “absolutely bananas” by local TD and Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín.
This afternoon hundreds gathered in Kells, County Meath to protest the decision to downgrade services at Navan Hospital.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show ahead of the rally, Mr Tóibín described the A&E as the county’s “the most important piece of health infrastructure” which has saved thousands of lives.
“The Government’s plan is to close it [and] send tens of thousands patients to Drogheda - which is already under enormous pressure,” he said.
“We have 12 hour waiting times currently in the A&E in Drogheda and if 20,000 extra patients descend upon the Drogheda Hospital on an annual basis that’s just going to make things worse for people.”
The Government has proposed the A&E be replaced with a Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) but Mr Tóibín believes this will not meet the needs of patients:
“It’s a GP referred MAU,” he explained.
“So if you have an accident or emergency and you want to go to it, you have to go to a GP to be sent to it.
“Now GPs are as rare as hen’s teeth at the moment and if you look for an appointment with a GP, you could be waiting up to 10 days, maybe even two weeks now.
“So there’s no way that the majority of people are going to wait that length of time to get to an MAU in Navan.
“They’re going to clog up that service there.
“This is not a theoretical issue. We already have it playing out in University Hospital Limerick where we see the closure of Ennis has led to what many people have said is a ‘warzone’ in University Hospital Limerick.”
“The context of this is 360 people die on an annual basis in this state due to A&E delays and overcrowding.
“It’s the HSE that has managed and allowed and facilitated that serious threat to health to exist right across the country.
“I have no faith in the HSE’s ability to deal with this.
“They are so far removed from the frontline medics who are dealing with this day in, day out.”
The HSE has been contacted for comment; Taoiseach Micheál Martin has previously said he does not agree that Navan Hospital is being downgraded.
“I think the phrase ‘downgrading’ is the wrong phrase in the first instance,” he told RTÉ in July.
“Healthcare is about investment and if you look across the country we’ve invested consistently over the years in many hospitals where similar arguments were made about downgrading.
“So investment will continue in our healthcare facilities - including Navan.”
Main image: Peadar Tóibín.