I thank the Deputy for the question. The point I am making is that this is a serious issue, which is very real for the local community. It is something that has been discussed with me by Oireachtas Members in opposition and obviously, in government as well. I am aware that the HSE initiated a process of planning for changes to the services at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan. I am also acutely aware that any proposed changes to health services can be a source of great anxiety and worry for communities affected and for the people we all represent and in this case, the people Deputy Guirke represents. I am determined that any consideration of changes to services at Navan must be happen in consultation with the local community in the first instance, through their elected representatives. I have, therefore, instructed the HSE to pause any such movements and to engage in a comprehensive manner with the elected representatives on behalf of the community.
I would like to set out for the Deputies the context for the proposed changes. In 2013, a smaller hospitals framework was published. It included a list of nine designated model two hospitals, including Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan. Eight of the nine have transitioned and Our Lady's in Navan is last on the list. The HSE has advised that the proposed changes to the services at Navan, in line with the Government decision, are necessary to support safe service delivery on a sustained basis and to address some very real clinical concerns.
The HSE's planning envisages the development of a 24-7 acute medical assessment unit, along with a 12-7 local injuries unit, and an extended role for the hospital in areas such as day and ambulatory surgery. I am advised that this would see the significant majority of current footfall continue, with the hospital in the future providing more care rather than less. Of course, this would have to be supported by the necessary investment.
I want to see the details of all of these proposals and I want those details to be shared with the elected representatives. I also want the proposals to be discussed in detail with the elected representatives. If it is the clinical view, and I am advised that it is, that what is being proposed will save the lives of the people Deputy Guirke represents, then I want us all to hear that from the senior clinical team on the ground. I want them to tell us that. If they believe this is going to save lives, and I am advised that they do believe that, then we need to hear it directly from them. If part of this is dependent on serious investment, then let us make sure we know exactly what level of investment is being proposed and how it is proposed to spend that investment. I will then need to make sure that funding is allocated so that these are not promises about things that could happen in the future but are specific, tangible, funded investments. Ultimately, what we all want is to make sure that if there are to be changes to systems, and healthcare systems go through reconfiguration all of the time, then they must be absolutely and clearly in the interests of the local community, they must be about saving lives as well as improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare. Critically, any such process must be done in consultation with the people affected through their elected representatives.