A young mum has moved to Dublin because she fears an ambulance would not get her daughter to hospital on time from her home in Co Meath.
Five-month-old Megan Rogers has a serious heart condition, and her mother, Leonna, declared herself homeless to get temporary accommodation in Tallaght so she can be closer to Our Lady's Children's Hos-pital in Crumlin.
Leonna (26) said that if she had stayed at home in Navan, Megan would have been taken to hospital in Drogheda in an emergency as her local hospital does not treat under-16s.
"Megan has hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. The left side of her heart stopped developing when I was five weeks pregnant, so she only has half a heart," said Leonna.
"She had her first surgery when she was three days old and she's scheduled to have another one in the next two weeks."
Megan's medical care is provided by a specialist cardiology team in Crumlin, but the protocol for ambulance call-outs would have seen crews take her to Drogheda.
"She would be stabilised there and then brought to Dublin, but I don't think the journey from Navan to Drogheda would do her any good, and I don't think she would last the journey," said Leonna.
"I ended up going homeless with the council and we were in hotels and B&Bs and this is a temporary apartment."
Leonna lives in Tallaght with her son, Michael (2), who has asthma. Her eldest child, David (10), lives in Navan with his dad.
"If there were proper facilities where Megan could get the care she needs I would have stayed in Navan," said Leonna.
Meath councillor Wayne Forde said if a patient is in cardiac arrest they should be taken to the nearest hospital to be stab- ilised, no matter what their age.
He made his remarks following a recent incident in which an ambulance carrying a 14-year-old who was in cardiac arrest was not allowed to go to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan.
Instead, it was directed to the nearest appropriate acute hospital for children, which was in Drogheda.
Mr Forde has asked Health Minister Leo Varadkar to investigate the circumstances.
He added that a cardiac arrest team is on stand-by at all times in Navan, but patients under 16 are diverted to Drogh-eda, a 25-minute drive away.
"Minutes, even seconds, are vital in cardiac arrest situations. This patient should have been taken to Navan. A life could have been lost," said Mr Forde.
The HSE said an ambulance would take a child with a known cardiac condition "to the nearest appropriate emergency department".