THE HSE’s decision to cut all acute and emergency surgery services from Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan is part of a wider plan to downgrade the facility, it has been claimed.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and surgeons working at the hospital have warned that despite HSE assurances the move is taking place to improve safety, the “facility is now effectively shut down” with up to 200 nursing jobs potentially at risk.
Under the HSE plan, which is based on a number of clinical reports raising concerns over surgery standards, all acute and emergency operations at the hospital will be cancelled with immediate effect.
While the facility’s emergency department will continue to operate on a 24-hour basis, any patient who attends and is in need of surgical treatment will be transferred to another hospital in the HSE north- east region.
These alternative facilities, many of which are already struggling to cope with the number of patients attending, include Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, the Mater and Beaumont Hospitals in Dublin city, Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and Cavan General Hospital.
The distance from Navan Hospital to Cavan General Hospital by car is 66km and takes approximately one hour outside of traffic congestion; to the Mater, the distance is 47km (50 minutes); to Beaumont, 53km (52 minutes); to Connolly Hospital, 40km (39 minutes); and to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, 28km (33 minutes).
A HSE spokesperson said Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan performs an average of four emergency surgical admissions a day, adding that concerns have been raised in recent months over the safety of services being provided.
However, a letter from three consultant surgeons based at the hospitals which was sent to local HSE management in recent days said no properly conducted audit of surgical practice has taken place.
While local Fianna Fáil TD Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said he was given a guarantee the hospital will survive, Labour health spokes- person Jan O’Sullivan said the HSE took the decision without in-depth consultation with staff or patients.
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