‘There is no downgrading’ – HSE chief defends replacement of Navan Hospital A&E with injury unit


The closure of the emergency department at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan is not a downgrade, the chief clinical officer at the HSE has insisted.

r Colm Henry said the emergency department will be replaced with a medical assessment unit and local injury unit.

Navan’s intensive care beds are going to close and although the new medical assessment unit will operate 24/7 patients attending there need to be referred by a GP.

The move has been met with anger locally.

Dr Henry told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “There is no downgrading. To be very clear about this, what’s happening here is – as we planned with other hospitals that we successfully implemented what are called model two hospitals, it expanded their services.

“They continued to see acutely ill medical patients through the medical assessment unit.”

Dr Henry added: “They continue to have active, busy local injury units. What we’re looking at here is a small proportion of patients who come to emergency departments.”

He said: “And for a small proportion of patients their needs are best served by bringing them to the right place first time. This is the latest in a series of steps that have already taken place at Navan Hospital where patients with heart attack or stroke bypass the hospital.

“What we want to do now is get to a position where those people who are maybe critically unwell are brought from their workplace or home to the right hospital first time.”

The new system will mean five or six seriously ill patients a day having to be taken by ambulance to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Co Louth instead for safety reasons.

“The emergency department as it currently exists, a small proportion of people who go there are critically unwell or unstable and we need to identify those people at source and with enhanced ambulance cover and enhanced paramedics bring them to the right hospital first time,” Dr Henry said.

“And we replace that emergency department with a 24/7 medial assessment unit. Our experience elsewhere is the great majority of patients who currently present to emergency departments would continue to be able to have their needs met at such a medical assessment facility.”

Dr Henry said additional resources and intensive care beds have to be put in place in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

“This has to be carefully planned in the first instance we have provided already over 80 beds to Drogheda hospital,” he said.

“We’ll have expanded the theatres there, the emergency department is being expanded, there’s more to be done in identifying additional medical beds and ICU beds to replace the very small intensive care unit at Navan Hospital.”

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