Fears for future of SWAH stroke unit

SWAH front

FEARS are growing for the future of the state-of-the-art stroke unit at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) following a regional review of stroke services.

Concerns for the future of the unit, which is one of the best performing stroke units in Europe, have been mounting for some time now, and while the Western Trust have stressed they intend to keep the unit open, the fear is the outcome of the recent review may take it out of its hands.

Following a query from the Herald asking if they could confirm the future of the stroke unit at SWAH was safe, a spokesperson for the Trust said they had “no plans to close the stroke unit in the South West Acute Hospital”, which they said “provides excellent care and treatment services to the local population and also performs highly in the treatment of acute stroke.”

They added, however:  “The Trust is aware that a regional review of stroke services has been undertaken by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and is working closely with the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency on the recommendations.”


The outcome of this review has not yet been published.

With regard concerns Fermanagh stroke patients were being taken to Altnagelvin, the Trust, which is unable to comment on individual cases, replied: “Patients can be transferred between the hospitals within the acute network of care provided by the Trust depending on their assessed needs.”

MLA Richie McPhillips said he didn’t want to be “too alarmist”, but his party had been doing a “scoping exercise” and had “discovered a real threat to the stroke unit at SWAH.”

“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “The SWAH stroke unit is the second-best performing unit in the whole of Europe, based on the length of time it takes from a stroke patient being taken to the door to when they are on the road to recovery.”

Mr McPhillips added: “Moves appear to be afoot to centralise stroke care. I’ve been made aware this may be in Altnagelvin. They talk about the ‘golden hour’, but in stroke care every second counts.

“It’s going to be the case that you have a stroke patient in somewhere like Roslea or Garrison, and they are going to have to be taken to Altnagelvin or Craigavon. You can forget about your golden hour then. Right now it takes an average of just 27 minutes from when you go in the door of SWAH with a stroke, to when you’re in recovery.”

Mr McPhillips said the issue was very serious and something needed to be done to ensure the future of services at SWAH, urging people to write to the Trust making their views known.


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