No decision made in the emergency room of Navan Hospital

No decision has been taken by the government on the HSE’s proposal to ‘transition’ the emergency department at Navan Hospital, according to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

The HSE announced on Monday that it plans to refer critically ill patients arriving in Navan to other hospitals and instead provide a 24/7 medical assessment unit in Navan .

He said the change was the final part of Navan’s transition to a (small) Model 2 hospital, as first recommended in a report in 2013.

However, Mr Donnelly intervened this morning to say that several important issues would need to be fully addressed before the proposed transition from ED to HSE takes place.

Those issues included additional capacity at other hospitals and the continued ability of Navan area residents to access emergency and emergency care, the minister said in a statement.

Mr Donnelly acknowledged the HSE’s clinical concerns about safety at Navan’s emergency room and said he had asked the HSE to outline those concerns and consult with elected representatives at a meeting on Monday.

“I clearly heard the concerns of Navan clinicians about the ongoing safety issues associated with operating in a small emergency department. I have also heard the concerns of clinicians in other hospitals who would be affected at a time when all health services are under such pressure.

HSE Clinical Director Dr Colm Henry denied Navan Hospital was being downgraded as part of the change. According to forecasts, around four or five critically ill patients a day would be brought by ambulance from Navan to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Dr Henry said Drogheda Hospital had received additional resources and intensive care beds.

Navan does not meet clinical standards for safety for some patients, according to the HSE. It’s already bypassed for heart attacks, strokes, major trauma, and it doesn’t treat children or pregnant women. Clinical coverage is provided by agency physicians not specializing in emergency medicine.

Patients arriving at Navan in need of intensive care often experience “potentially catastrophic delays” in accessing the treatment they need, he says.

Lillian L. Pena