Belleek locals live over a year longer than Enniskillen residents

belleek village feature


PEOPLE living in rural Fermanagh should expect to live longer, have fewer self-harm admission rates and less teenage pregnancies than those living in urban Enniskillen, a report has suggested.

Overall men and woman in rural areas can expect to live 1.5 and 1.3 years longer respectively, compared with the regional average.


Lung cancer incidence and death rates in rural areas are both around a quarter lower than the regional average while the standardised death rate attributable to drugs was under half that experienced regionally. The self harm admission rate in rural areas was less than half that regionally and suicide rate in rural areas was a quarter lower than the regional average.

According to the Health & Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System, teenage birth rate in rural areas was 40 per cent below the regional average.

While rural areas enjoy these somewhat positive statistics, ambulance response times in these parts were 70 per cent longer than the regional average and fire response times in rural areas were 83% longer than the regional average.

Belleek GP, Dr Tom Kernan should know something about the lifestyles of rural dwellers. Based in Rathmore Health Centre in the village, he is one of a three-doctor practice that looks after 4,200 patients across a scattered area that stretches to almost 300 square miles.

“There’s townlands where there’s nobody living in, with empty houses, several of them, and that’s since I’ve come here.

“And, if you travel between Belleek and Enniskillen, there’s a whole lot of roads going up to the Barrs. Most of those lanes there were people living in them but, now they’re closed off.”

“In the old days, if somebody wasn’t well, there was a family living close to them to call on. That’s no longer the case. Those people are gone. People talk about economic recovery and ‘shoots’. That may be true for Belfast or Dublin, but west of the Pale and west of the Bann, there are no ‘shoots’.


“So, emigration definitely is a factor.”

His practice extends just inside the border from Pettigo to the east and across to Kiltyclogher and Ballyshannon to the west.

Many of his patients, he explains, whatever their complaint, suffer from a lack of funding.

“In some parts of England, home helps are given 15 minutes to get a client up out of bed, washed and breakfasted. Try doing that yourself in 15 minutes.”

And, because of the lack of home care packages, his patients cannot be discharged from hospital.

“They call it ‘bed blocking’. They’re well enough to go home, but no funding for care packages or nursing home places, not even for respite.

“Rural transport is thin on the ground and, of course, we do house calls for patients who are housebound or suffering from COPD or from other respiratory problems, from strokes as well as those who are terminally ill.”

But, if he had his way to help improve the well-being of the practice’s patients, all 4,200 of them, it would be more funding spent wisely on community home helps, ‘that kind of thing’.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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