THE PEOPLE of Fermanagh should continue to mobilise against the current threats to our local health service, and should even push to have the issue made part of the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
That’s the message from one of the leaders of the campaign to save services at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, where ‘people power’ helped save their local emergency department, ahead of yet another public meeting on the future of the services at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH). This time the meeting will concern the sweeping cuts recently by the Western Trust, including the closure of the hospital’s neonatal unit and of an elderly ward this winter.
Francis Gallagher, chairman of the Daisy Hill Action Group, said he was impressed when he saw the large turnout at the recent stroke services meeting at the Killyhevlin Hotel, and urged people to attend the upcoming public consultation meeting on the Western Trust’s proposed savings cuts, which takes place at the Lakeland Forum next Thursday at 7pm.
“They are going about it the right way, in trying to mobilise people and get people behind them. That’s very important,” said Mr Gallagher, who added having logical, well-thought out arguments to the save services, whether it’s the stroke or neonatal unit, was vital too.
“We discovered that what helped to win the case here, so far, was the medical and clinical evidence that showed if they closed the A&E in Newry it would lead to a deterioration in patient care,” he said.
“Having public meetings it the right thing to do. They may need to, eventually, take to the streets. That also has an impact as well.”
He continued: “Another key point would be to get your medical people on board, your doctors and consultants at the hospital. If you have your medical people speaking out for you, it really has an impact.”
Mr Gallagher said the Daisy Hill Action Group and their other local campaign groups, such as Save the Daisy Hill Emergency Department, would be happy to work with people in Fermanagh to help with the campaign, and could be reached on Facebook or their website.
“We need to speak with one unified voice,” he said, explaining the powers-that-be were “worried they’ll get coordinated demonstrations throughout the whole province.”
Mr Gallagher added “the bigger picture will be the Brexit negotiations”, explaining they were hoping the South’s Foreign Minister visit the hospital soon.
“We’re trying to get cross-border health care in this area around Newry put on to the Brexit negotiations,” he explained. “As part of a Brexit deal there will have to be some discussions about cross-border health care. So I would advise the people of Fermanagh to be thinking also in terms of that, too.”
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