Health meeting fiasco “a victory for the people”


THE head of the Western Trust has apologised to the people of Fermanagh, who have vowed to keep fighting and to come out in even greater numbers next time after last night’s public consultation on proposed cuts was called off at the eleventh hour.

There was anger at the Lakeland Forum last night when several hundred local people attended the planned consultation meeting, in the hope of voicing their opposition to the £12.5m in cuts proposed by the Western Trust. These proposals include a range of reduction in services at SWAH such as the closure of the neonatal unit and cuts to domiciliary care packages and elderly services.

However, the room booked by the Western Trust was not able to accommodate even half the crowd who showed up, and people refused to enter the room. The event was then called off, and it has been rescheduled to take place at the bigger hall in the Lakeland Forum this Monday evening, October 7, at 7pm.


Speaking to the Hearld following last night’s fiasco, chief executive of the Western Trust, Anne Kilgallen, said she wanted to sincerely apologise for not being able to accommodate the huge crowd that turned out, and said a smaller room had been booked as a low level of interest had been registered with the Trust prior to the meeting.

“I’m very disappointed people haven’t got the chance to have their voices heard,” said Ms Kilgallen, explaining there were more people present than the room, which they booked five weeks ago at the beginning of the consultation process.

“It was only at the event in relation to stroke services, which is a different consultation, at the Killyhevlin Hotel, that we realised there was likely to be great interest in the event and we did try to arrange for an alternative space with the Council, but didn’t move early enough to talk to the Council about that. It was earlier this week before we did it, and the Council had, very understandably, their premises booked up. I bitterly regret that now.”

Ms Kilgallen urged people to come back along again on Monday night, stating their opinions would be taken seriously.

However, Unison’s Jill Weir did not accept the Trust’s explanation there had been a low level of interest registered.

“To me it’s a victory for the people, but it is an absolute disgrace on the Trust. I don’t know what they were expecting when they booked their room,” she said.

“I know in their posters they say that [people had to register interest], but most people have heard through word of mouth, or on social media, or through the different campaigns coming here tonight, she said, adding the organisers of the recent strokes meeting had watched social media and booked a larger room, and even that had not been able to accommodate the huge crowd.


“We are asking the people, when this is rescheduled, please come out again. We’re asking the people, come out again, bring somebody with you the next time.

This morning a spokesman for the Western Trust said the meeting had been cancelled due to “health and safety reasons.”

“We are encouraging the public to also make comments on the consultation by visiting the Western Trust website under ‘Consultations’ before 5 October 2017,” they said. “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to anyone who attended yesterday evening.”

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