Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid has said plans to reconfigure the Emergency Department at Our Lady's Hospital Navan will proceed, despite a request from Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to put them on hold.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Reid said that "it would be a mistake" for the minister to use his powers under Section 10 of the Health Act to direct the Health Service Executive to call a halt to its plans.

There is strong political opposition to the proposal to replace the emergency department at Our Lady's Hospital in Navan with a 24-hour medical assessment and injury unit.

Among those who have expressed concerns about the plans are Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, who is also a TD for the area.

Public representatives have warned that neighbouring hospitals, including Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, will be unable to cope with the increased demand, if the changes proceed.

The HSE says it is providing additional resources to the hospital in Drogheda, and to the National Ambulance Service to address these concerns.

The reconfiguration of the Emergency Department at Navan was due to happen by the end of June, but Minister Donnelly asked the HSE to pause its plans to allow for further consultation with public representatives.

Mr Reid said today that the HSE is pressing on with its plans despite the minister's request.

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"We're progressing the actions ... the minister has raised concerns with us, and we're addressing those concerns over the coming weeks.

"Ultimately we have to do this, because it's a significant patient safety issue.

"People in the Navan and Meath area are really at risk of poorer health outcomes, and indeed death, if we don't take these actions."

Mr Reid said the minister had not used ministerial powers to stop the reconfiguration of the ED in Navan.

"The minister can, through Section 10 of the Health Act, direct us not to do it, but I hope we don't get there, and I think that would be a mistake," he said.

Clinicians at the Navan hospital who support the changes said they are necessary to guarantee patient safety for the people who use the services there.

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In a statement this evening, Minister Donnelly said there was no approval for changes to the ED in Navan.

The minister said patient safety concerns would need to be addressed before any changes in Navan would be considered.

He said: " The Government's position is clear. There is no sanction at this time to make changes to the ED at Navan. Numerous issues relating to patient safety have been raised regarding the current proposed reconfiguration.

"These issues pertain both to Our Lady’s Hospital Navan and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda.

"These issues have been raised by people including elected representatives, GPs in Meath and senior clinicians at OLOL Drogheda. These must be addressed before any changes to emergency care in Navan would be considered by Government."