The Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar.

Protests against overcrowding will take place outside 14 hospitals this Saturday

Chairman of the 'Save Navan Hospital Campaign', Peadar Tóibín TD has announced that at least 14 hospital campaigns throughout the country will protest this Saturday January 21 against the overcrowding crisis.

“This Saturday will see one of the most widespread mobilisations of citizens in this country in support of a functioning health service. Never have so many hospital campaigns mobilised in such numbers," an Teachta Tóibín stated.

"In some cases thousands will turn out and in other cases it will be dozens, but the message will be clear - there is a deep anger and frustration amongst people at the constant chaos of our health service,” he said.

“This crisis has not happened by accident. There is a capacity crisis in the A&E system in large part because the HSE has closed down eight A&Es in 15 years at a time when the population of the state was growing.

"The HSE senior management is still wedded to that policy, as right now they seek to close Navan A&E.

"The HSE closed 6,000 hospital beds since 2008; there are 30% too few GPs in the state; and there are 200 too few ICU beds in the state. Pay and conditions for staff are so bad that many are voting with their feet and leaving the HSE altogether. This downward spiral needs to be stopped now.

“There are signs of change coming and for first time senior HSE consultants have admitted that the closure of certain A&Es was a mistake. In Drogheda 17 consultants wrote a letter to the Minister for Health warning against the closure of Navan A&E. Ten consultants in Mullingar Hospital wrote a letter outlining the same danger.

"Latest medical best practice is pushing back against the corrosive A&E and capacity closures of the past. This winter’s chaos which is costing hundreds of lives needs to be a turning point in the development of a functioning health system in Ireland.

"We urge people to come out in numbers outside their local hospital on Saturday to push home this point loud and clear so the Minister and the HSE cant but hear it," continued Peadar Tóibín TD.

So far, hospital campaigns have committed to mobilising outside the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar; Navan Hospital, Limerick University Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Kerry University Hospital, University Hospital Galway, Mayo General Hospital, Sligo University Hospital, Letterkenny University Hospital, Causeway Coast, Colraine, Monaghan Hospital, Cavan Hospital, Mullingar Hospital, Drogheda Hospital and Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown.

All protests will commence outside these hospitals at 1pm, except in Limerick where a march will start at 11am at City Hall, Merchants Quay. Discussions are ongoing for further campaigns in Roscommon, Portlaoise, Bantry, and Daisy Hill in Newry.