THE Western Trust has insisted that a reduction in the number of gynaecology patients being seen at at in South West Acute Hospital is a temporary measure.
Last week, in response to a request from the Herald, the Western Trust denied that there was any threat to maternity services, but one week on, the Trust has now confirmed that the number of gynaecology patients being seen at SWAH has been reduced due to a staffing crisis.
Gynaecology, which is included in maternity services, deals with conditions and diseases specific to women and girls, and it is believed that the Trust had tried to recruit 12 trainee doctors for the Gynaecology ward, but failed to do so leading to the reduction in the service.
Donal O’Cofaigh, from Fermanagh Save our Services, has claimed that this is outrageous, and is concerned about the future of the Gynaecology services at SWAH.
“This is very concerning – in other places where there has been a temporary reduction in services, this has become permanent very quickly. We would be fearful that this might be the case in Enniskillen and there is absolutely no justification for any demolition of services here.
“This will have significant impact on the wider provisional services in maternity, and we are very concerned for this outcome.”
A spokesman for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) explained,
“Maternity services on Friday July 20th ran as normal, however the number of gynaecology patients being seen at outpatients has been reduced temporarily. The Trust will continue to work diligently to address the gaps in medical staffing.”
Last week, the Herald reported that one gynaecology patient who suffers from endometriosis was already travelling to Strabane for treatment and Sinn Fein MLA Jemma Dolan believes that these services must be available locally for every woman in the county.
“I think any loss of services at the hospital is a loss to the county as a whole. We have been fighting to maintain services here, and we are in constant contact with the Western Trust. We were reassured that the staff were communicated with and that they were making progress in retaining the services. It is worrying for staff, expecting mothers and any woman in the county.
“We do want to get back into Government to ensure that these babies who will hopefully be born in Enniskillen will be born into a society of equals.”
Jill Weir, branch secretary of Unison at South West Acute Hospital has said, “it is concerning that these services have been reduced but I am confident that our Trust will endeavour to have these services operating as normal as soon as possible.”
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