Consultants from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda have warned that "patients may die" if updated ambulance protocols go ahead.

The changes, due to come into effect from 12 December, would see critical or seriously unwell patients diverted away from Our Lady's Hospital in Navan straight to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

A letter signed by 17 consultants in Drogheda warned the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly not to proceed with the updated bypass protocol, warning that due to a lack of resources in their hospital, patient care will be compromised and patients may die.

The letter added that the hospital is currently dealing with a deficit in medical staffing of 16 doctors.

The HSE, however, has said that the changes are being made to address urgent patient safety matters.

In a statement, it added that such ambulance bypass protocols are already in place for paediatric, obstetric, major trauma, heart attack and stroke patients.

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No decision regarding the wider reconfiguration of the emergency department (ED) at Our Lady's Hospital Navan has been made. There has also been no decision to introduce a full ambulance bypass protocol for Navan.

Meath West TD and Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has also called for the updated plan for serious and critical patients to be reversed.

"Nobody in this region wants to see what's happening in University Hospital Limerick happen in our region. It's time for proper investment into the ED services in the country," he said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Senator Shane Cassells also called on the Government to heed warnings from senior clinicians in Drogheda.

"The Minister and the Cabinet need to listen to the consultants from Drogheda who have said that this plan is unsafe, that patients may die and that has to be taken extremely seriously," Senator Cassells said.