Lochside Garage

NHS campaigners wary of plans for future of hospital

A NEW initiative shaping the future for Enniskillen’s South West Acute Hospital is raising concerns among local health service campaigners. 
The ‘Pathfinder’ initiative is described by the Western Trust as aiming to ‘find the best route forward for affordable Health and Social Care for Fermanagh and West Tyrone.’ 
In July, following concerns about the sustainability of critical services at SWAH in the aftermath of a failure to fill a number of junior doctor positiions, the Trust announced it would be initiating this Pathfinder process in Fermanagh.
A period of face-to-face engagement with the community is organised to begin in the coming weeks but already Donal O’Cofaigh, spokesman for Fermanagh Save Our Services says the community needs to take a keen interest in the Trust’s plans.
“Unfortunately – unlike the Pathfinder initiative taken forward in regard to services at Daisyhill Hospital in Newry – which was invoked as an example of best practice – there was no engagement with the local community in terms of roll-out or design. 
“Fermanagh Save Our Services, a leading voice for local health services, has not been contacted since July in regard to the Pathfinder process. This is opposite to the approach taken in Newry where the local community and campaigners were involved from day one,” said Mr O’Cofaigh. 
When first announced in July, the Pathfinder was focused on SWAH, but Mr O’Cofaigh says the process now seems to have been extended to Omagh. 
Donal O’Cofaigh claims this is a concerning development saying, “This threatens an agenda of playing one hospital off against another while continuing the rundown of services at both. 
“Despite these serious concerns, we wish to encourage the public to engage in this process and to make their voices heard but we warn the WHSCT that if they think we will be corralled into accepting further losses of services they will be severely mistaken. 
“The people of Fermanagh have mobilised repeatedly – what we need to see are the services that have been lost to be returned to SWAH”, Mr O’Cofaigh added.
The Trust says the Pathfinder project aims to create a whole new ‘conversation’ about SWAH and the consultation will involve patients, staff, community groups, carers, action groups, public representatives and stakeholders.
Speaking about the launch of the public consultation, deputy chief executive of the Western Trust Kieran Downey said, “I would urge everyone to get involved with the Pathfinder discussions, to give this process a chance. 
“As the name suggests, Pathfinder is about finding the best route forward for affordable Health and Social Care for Fermanagh and West Tyrone.”

The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA