Minister for Health James Reilly has said there will be no change in the short term to the emergency department at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan, Co Meath.

In a statement this afternoon, Mr Reilly said he will not stand over any change to the emergency department while there is not enough capacity elsewhere in the system to safely accommodate patients treated there.

Around 8,000 people marched through Navan at the weekend to protest at plans to close the emergency department in the town.

The Health Service Executive had proposed to close the department within the next 14-15 months subject to the availability of additional capacity.

The emergency department would become a Local Injuries Unit.

If the facility was downgraded, patients would have to travel to an already overcrowded emergency department at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.