The Irish Mail on Sunday

8,000 join protest over closure of Navan A&E

- By Niamh Griffin

AS many as 8,000 people protested in Navan yesterday against plans to close the A&E department of Our Lady’s Hospital.

Tractors led the colourful march through the Co. Meath town as the ‘Save Our Hospital’ campaign rejected proposals to force patients to travel to the already overcrowde­d Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda instead.

The closure is part of a national restructur­ing plan set in place after

‘19,000 people use the A&E here every year’

a 2009 Health Informatio­n and Quality Authority (HIQA) report highlighte­d concerns about safety in small hospitals.

Speaking after the rally, campaign spokesman Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín said: ‘We are delighted with the numbers. Up to 19,000 people use the A&E here on an annual basis. The majority of these people would then be forced to go to Drogheda. That hospital is already a scandal due to overcrowdi­ng. I’m calling on Minister Reilly to rescind his plan to close the A&E here.’ The angry crowd was also addressed by Navan Hospital surgeon and whistleblo­wer Joe McGrath. On Friday, the HSE apologised to Mr McGrath under settlement of his High Court case.

Mr McGrath has long campaigned against cutbacks in the health service, saying the hospital was being dangerousl­y undercut. Following negative performanc­e reviews by the HSE, he sued, alleging damage to his reputation.

The INMO nursing union recently called for Drogheda’s Emergency Department to close for 24 hours due to what it said were ‘dangerous’ levels of overcrowdi­ng. The HSE have said services will only transfer when the bed capacity in Drogheda is suitable. The HSE has estimated this will be in about one year’s time.

 ??  ?? CaMpaiGn: Angry protestors on the streets of Navan yesterday
CaMpaiGn: Angry protestors on the streets of Navan yesterday

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