A crowd of around 400 people gathered today at the HSE’s Regional Offices in Kells, Co Meath in protest against the proposed closure of Navan A&E.
Two funeral hearses led the several hundred people in attendance through the town this lunchtime for the third such protest in less than a year.
A review is currently being carried out into plans by the HSE to replace the emergency department at Our Lady’s Hospital with a GP-referred medical assessment unit.
The crowd was addressed by the campaign chairman Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín, Senior SIPTU Official John Regan, Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke, Fianna Fail Senator Shane Cassells and the Independent Councillor Gillian Toole.
Speaking after the a rally Peadar Tóibín said the sense of anger in the local community is evident as the campaign continues:
”There was a palpable anger here today among protestors in county Meath. That such a large crowd gathered in the middle of a working day in Kells shows just how important this service is to us. Our march was preceded by a number of funeral hearses to underscore the life and death issue that faces the people of Meath. In the middle of a A&E capacity crisis the HSE is seeking to close a busy A&E in one of the fastest growing counties in the country. Surrounding hospitals are beyond capacity. Each one of them over the summer has released a statement asking patients not to present sue to overcrowding”.
“There are twelve hour waiting times in Drogheda. 24 hours waiting times in Tallaght. Staff at Connolly took to the streets to protest against overcrowding in their hospital. 23 hospital consultants in Drogheda wrote a letter to the government stating that closure would be a threat to the health of the people. Yet the HSE refuse to even research a cost benefit analysis into a functioning and safe A&E in Meath. They refuse to do a simple feasibility study to see what investment would be necessary to make our A&E safe. The HSE management are disconnected from the reality of the people. We have no confidence in them”.
“This campaign will continue until we have a cast iron guarantee of a properly funded A&E in Meath. We will commission a professionally researched feasibility study for a functioning and safe A&E. We will look at what legal recourse we have in terms of stopping the HSE. We will picket the head offices of the HSE if necessary and we are already in conversations with other hospital campaigns throughout the country to organise a national day of action seeking to fix the crisis overwhelming our broken Health Care System”.