LOCAL doctors have begged our politicians to “get their act together” as they warn that proposals to cut our services in Fermanagh will put lives at risk.
Commenting on the £12.5 million cost-saving proposals published by the Western Trust last week, Fermanagh GP Brendan O’Hare said “their effect will be devastating”.
Dr O’Hare even questioned the amount of money the cuts will save.
“Basically, 30 percent of all Trust money goes into things like heat, light and powering buildings. You really can do very, very little to save money there,” he explained, stating most cuts will have to come from salary savings, and which the closure of wards and services will not achieve.
“They simply have no chance of saving this money whatsoever, it’s a forlorn hope. But we will see our services further devastated.
“Six year waiting list for hips, five years for hernias and gallbladders, those things will simply stop.
“They will have to focus what meagre resources they have on critical care. I’m afraid the people of Fermanagh will pay a heavy price.”
With regard to the proposed closure of SWAH’s neo-natal unit, Dr O’Hare said: “It will mean deliveries at SWAH are bound to be affected, because any mother having a higher risk delivery, simply will not be able to give birth there, it won’t be safe.”
Overall, Dr O’Hare said the cuts would see people get sicker, and were actually “a false economy.”
“If you take the case of gallbladder disease, where people need their gallbladder out because they’re having recurring episodes of very severe pain, jaundice, and they’re at risk of pancreatitis, these people are in and out of A&E like yo-yos with recurring episodes of pain.
“So, they think they’re saving on elective care, but they’re actually causing demand on the acute side of the service. There is no saving there whatsoever, they’re actually adding to the burden.”
Dr O’Hare agreed lives may even be put at risk.
“One of the problems that happens with gallstones is people with sludge in their gallbladders are at increased risk of pancreatitis, which is a very serious illness and can cause deaths. That’s one simple example of what might happen.
“Other things that are happening are that the waiting lists are going out for things like gastroscopes and colonoscopies. We’re referring people up urgently, who may have a tumour, and these people are waiting for God knows how long on the waiting list. They may go from treatable to terminally ill, because of delayed diagnosis.”
Another local GP, who didn’t want to be named, said the entire health system needed reformed.
“The whole system doesn’t work any more,” he said. “This will get worse and worse if they are more cuts.
“We already have horrendous waiting times. If you want to have a knee replacement, it already takes two-and-a-half to three years, and during that time older people become more inactive. It’s very important for them to stay active, and if they can’t stay active it impacts on their health.”
Both GPs called on politicians to put their differences aside for the sake of people’s health.
Dr O’Hare said: “What I would say, very clearly, is that I accept they have serious concerns about the Irish language and other issues that are really important to them, but the health service is falling apart around us. It is dreadful. It’s a dreadful place to have to work.
“Please, politicians from all sides, do your job, get your act together, and release the resources that are actually there. Please just get it together, get the resources out, and let us get on with our jobs.”
Posted: 1:32 pm September 3, 2017