Protesters gathered outside the Dáil on Thursday to call on the Government and HSE to abandon its plans to close the A&E in Navan Hospital.

Sinn Féin TDs for County Meath, Johnny Guirke and Darren O’Rourke were in attendance as local representatives for the area. Mr Guirke is a TD for Meath West.

Speaking about the demonstrations, Johnny Guirke said: “There is huge concern across County Meath that Navan Hospital is set to lose its crucial Accident and Emergency unit.

“Earlier this week Darren O’Rourke and I raised our concerns on the floor of the Dáil and called for the government to give assurances services won’t be downgraded.

“We were initially told by Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte there was no change of policy planned. However, this was immediately contradicted when she read the prepared statement from the Department of Health which said the current Emergency Department will be replaced with a 24/7 Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and 12/7 Local Injuries Unit (LIU).

The TD called it a hugely regressive move, and said they will not support it. He added “The A&E provides a vital service for County Meath, and it needs to be retained.”

Meanwhile, Meath East TD Darren O’Rourke continued by saying: “The HSE has been hell-bent on closing services in Navan Hospital for years, despite the county having a huge population of 210,000 people and growing.”

Urgent meeting

Both Ministers said they have written to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to seek an urgent meeting about the situation.

“The pandemic has particularly highlighted the huge value of Navan Hospital and the incredible staff who work there, and it is vital we retain the crucial A&E Department.”

The news comes as five hospitals have had their worst ever September for overcrowding this month, new figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show.

Cork University Hospital, Mercy University Hospital (Cork), University Hospital Kerry, Letterkenny University Hospital, and Portiuncula Hospital have all seen more patients on trolleys this September than any other year.

Four nurses in University Hospital Galway quit, due to conditions in the hospital’s temporary emergency department

Many other hospitals have more than doubled the number of patients on trolleys since September 2020, including St James’s Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Wexford General Hospital, MRH Portlaoise, Cavan General and OLH Navan.