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Thousands forced into travelling for operations

THOUSANDS of people are facing a 'hospital merry go round' -- undergoing surgery they could have received locally.

Doctors said yesterday that more than 1,500 patients would be affected by the cessation of acute and emergency surgery in Our Lady's Hospital in Navan -- meaning patients will now have to travel to Dublin, Louth and Cavan to undergo certain treatments.

The HSE explained yesterday: "The decision has been made in the interest of providing the highest quality of service to patients and following expert clinical advice."

The closure means that common operations such as appendectomies, gall bladder and hernia surgery can no longer be performed in Navan, and most of these surgeons will now remain under-used.

Meath GP Niall Maguire said that patients who would have been able to undergo surgery locally will now have to travel to Beaumont, the Mater or Connolly Hospital or Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.



Suburb

Mr Maguire explained that although they are close in proximity, Dublin should not be considered the next port of call for Navan patients.

"Navan is not a suburb of Dublin and for elderly people who have no transport, it will mean having to go for outpatient follow-up care to Beaumont or Dublin.

"This is management by bulldozer, by people who can afford to go to private hospitals themselves," he said.

The doctor added that hospital records show a high performance rate.

However, the emergency department in Our Lady's Hospital in Navan will continue to function on a 24-hour basis with triage by emergency department, medical and nursing staff.

Patients in need of emergency surgery will be transferred elsewhere -- and patients requiring non-urgent surgical procedures "will be referred to outpatient, day case or inpatient surgical services as appropriate".

Dr Maguire said he was worried about the future of the hospital's emergency department. Since 2006 no major surgery has been undertaken at the hospital.

Labour Party Spokesperson on Health Jan O'Sullivan has criticised the decision.



Confidence

"Navan Hospital serves a highly populated and still expanding catchment area.

"People who use the hospital have confidence in the service it provides and they should be allowed to continue to use it.

"The decision, in particular, to divert people to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is inexplicable. Drogheda is already under severe pressure and this will only add to its problems.

"This is yet another example of the arrogant approach of the HSE and the Department of Health.

"Major decisions are being made that impact on the provision of key health services without any consultation with staff or the patients they are supposed to serve."

cmcbride@herald.ie


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