Fight to save SWAH’s stroke unit heats up


Professor Jim Kelly addressing the massive crowd that turned up at the meeting at the Killyhevlin on Monday night

HEALTH chiefs have been served notice! 
In unprecedented scenes for any public meeting of its kind in Fermanagh, the Killyhevlin Hotel was overwhelmed with the numbers that turned up for a ‘public consultation’ on the future of the stroke unit at SWAH. 
There are growing concerns that the stroke unit at the new hospital is to be closed as part of a major review which will see stroke victims here having to be rushed to Derry for urgent treatment.
The highly charged and emotive meeting in Enniskillen on proposals to revamp stroke services attracted hundreds of people from all sections of the community. 
In remarkable scenes before the meeting, traffic on the A4 Belfast Road ground to a halt on Monday evening as cars lined both sides of the road bumper to bumper outside the Killyhevlin Hotel and crowds tried to gain access to the packed ballroom. 
While seating had been provided for 400, over 200 more came along to vent their concerns, many of whom missed out after the doors were closed due to health and safety fears. 
Those in attendance ranged from stroke survivors and their families, medical professionals, carers, trade union officials, clergy and politicians. 
For over a year this newspaper has regularly reported on fears that any review of stroke services will lead to the downgrading or closure of SWAH’s Stroke Unit. 
The vital importance of the service to this area and the palpable wave of anger at any plans to close or downgrade it was clear for all to see at the pre-consultation on ‘Reshaping Stroke Services’.  
Throughout the evening, the message from the health authorities was that the purpose of the meeting was to listen to people’s views. Despite continually stressing that no decisions had been made on service provision, this failed to reassure the highly sceptical crowd who often booed at the proposals being laid out and cheered loudly for those who spoke out in opposition. 

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