Navan Hospital’s clinical director has accused Stephen Donnelly of being ‘thrifty with the truth’ after the health minister denied gagging him over plans to close the emergency department.
Erry McEntee said he and the hospital’s senior management had been instructed not to engage with the local community over the controversial plan until they met with local politicians – a meeting he he said Mr. Donnelly canceled four times in the previous seven months.
The meeting finally took place last month, when the HSE confirmed its imminent intention to move forward with the closure of the emergency department at Notre Dame Hospital in Navan, a decision since put on hold by Mr. Donnelly in the midst of local and political opposition.
Mr Donnelly, through a spokesman, denied gagging anyone to talk about the decision before this meeting.
But Mr. McEntee told the Sunday Independent“The definition of the word ‘gag’ perfectly describes what he did.
“He banned us from engaging with the local community until we met with county politicians, a meeting he canceled four times, and in the meantime we were gagged,” he said. declared.
“The Minister told us that we should not engage with the local community. What other term would you use for that, other than gagging? End of the story. They are frugal with the truth.
The HSE’s proposal to reconfigure healthcare provision in the area, close Navan A&E in Co Meath and divert some patients to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth, has instead caused political controversy major in recent weeks.
As the HSE insists it is moving forward with reconfiguration plans on the basis of patient safety, Mr Donnelly, who is ultimately in favor of downgrading the Navan emergency department, has asked that it is put on hold and the HSE come up with ‘a more comprehensive proposal’. It is feared that as a result of the move more patients will end up in Drogheda than the HSE claims.
Mr McEntee sharply chastised politicians for their opposition to the planned move, arguing it put the lives of critically ill patients at risk.
Thousands of people took part in a protest against the planned A&E closure in Navan yesterday, where campaigners called on the HSE to make the hospital safer rather than close the facility.
Responding to allegations of gagging by Dr McEntee, a spokesperson for Mr Donnelly said: ‘The decision to reconfigure Notre Dame Hospital in Navan was made in 2013.
“The Minister has requested that Oireachtas elected officials commit to the HSE reconfiguration project as part of the public communications campaign. The minister did not “gag” anyone.
“The Minister acknowledges the expert clinical view that Navan Hospital is not up to the task of providing the full range of services required for a 24/7 emergency service in the future. .
“He also heard the very real concerns of senior clinicians at Notre Dame de Lourdes, who said additional capacity would be needed to support the proposed changes. The Minister believes that their concerns should be addressed. Its officials are now engaging with the HSE.
But Dr McEntee insisted: ‘You can ask any of these groups… who were involved in the initial meeting with Minister Donnelly. He told us very clearly that we were not to engage with the local community until we met the regional politicians.