Concern neonatal unit could still be under threat


Over 700 people turned out for a public health meeting at the Lakeland Forum on planned health cuts

THE people of Fermanagh have been urged against complacency when it comes to protecting our services at SWAH, and have been warned that previously proposed cuts could be imposed in future.
Speaking at last week’s Western Trust Board extraordinary meeting in Derry, which came after the Trust received additional funding meaning they will not have to make the most controversial cuts such as to elderly services and the neonatal unit at SWAH, health worker Cllr Debbie Coyle asked “are these cuts off the table for good?”
“Were they just testing the water to see if they could sneak it in a six weeks consultation  and see what the response would be? They’ve seen what the response from Fermanagh was,” she told the Herald.
Chair of Fermanagh Save Our Services (SOS), Padraig Murphy, claimed  the neonatal unit, or even maternity services, could still be under threat.
“I was listened to [Trust CEO] Anne Kilgallen that night at the Forum,” she Mr Murphy. “She referred to the number of births at SWAH as being at 1,250. I think she slipped that in deliberately because the criteria laid down by the health trusts is that a unit as such is 1,500 plus.”
Donal O’Cofaigh, also from Fermanagh SOS, said: “This is only a reprieve, a temporary one, and what we need to do now is move from a defensive campaign which was about retaining existing service to one which we’re demanding the return of services we’ve lost in the past. The downgrading of services needs to be reversed.”
MLA Rosemary Barton, who also addressed the meeting, said:  “We do not want to be in the same place next year arguing against cuts to the neonatal unit in the South West Acute Hospital, or against the removal of elective services, which if along with a reduction in domicillary care will put significantly more pressure onto the ongoing care required for those patients involved and put more stress on the GPs, emergency departments and non-release of hospital beds as well as increasing waiting list times.”
Cllr John Coyle also welcomed the extra funding, but said millions of cuts remained to be made and  “there is no such as thing as ‘no impact’ cuts.”
“It is simply impossible for the Health Trusts to make savings of this magnitude without an impact on service delivery and patient care,” said Cllr Coyle, who was also present at the meeting.  “Even the proposals that are described as ‘low impact’ cannot be implemented without negatively affecting delivery of service and patient care.”

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