Yesterday, it said a document detailing cutbacks across the service in the north-east was only a discussion document.
“[This] is a draft internal document. No decisions have been taken on reducing services in the north-east. We are facing a challenging year and we are exploring how best to deliver services within budget,” said the HSE.
It added it will decide on the future provision of services within three weeks.
“We should be in a position by mid-February to be more definitive about the services we will provide for the year,” it said.
The HSE confirmed the cutbacks are on the cards after the draft proposal prepared by HSE manager Chris Lyons was leaked to RTÉ. It suggested closing the A&E department in the Louth County Hospital and the A&E unit in Monaghan General.
There are also plans to cut elective surgery at Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, Louth County Hospital and Cavan/Monaghan Hospital by up to 25%.
The memo was circulated among local management and outlined what was described as “identified actions”.
Minister for Transport, and Meath TD Noel Dempsey told local newspaper the Meath Chronicle yesterday he was concerned about the document and said it appeared as if a “bureaucrat” had drafted it without taking into account the impact it would have on the ground.
Sinn Féin’s TD in the area Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the proposals were a “throwback to the savage cuts of the 1980s”.
“The intent to cut services is very clear. In their reaction the HSE has not disowned the memo nor have they ruled out any of the cuts proposed,” he said.