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More southern patients could secure future for SWAH services

AT a time when there are concerns that SWAH needs to attract more patients for services to be sustainable in the long-term, it has emerged that many patients just across the border have unacceptabtly long journey times to A and E hospitals in the South.
Counties Donegal and Leitrim are the worst served counties in the Republic for access to an emergency department, which presents the question of whether crossborder patients could benefit from access to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen. When SWAH was built in 2012 cost £712m, it was thought that its long term viability depended on attracting patients from border counties in the South.
In December 2017, the South West Acute Hospital was given a massive morale booster with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar suggesting in the Dail that more cross-border patients should travel to Enniskillen for treatment.
Gamma, which provides location based insights using Eircodes to Ireland’s leading companies, has found that patients in Leitrim have an average of 39km to travel to an emergency department, while patients in Donegal have to travel 36km.
The time it takes for person who needs medical care to get to an emergency department can be vital in the outcome of the patient, especially in heart attacks or stroke.
Patients close to the Fermanagh border may find themselves closer to Enniskillen than a southern hospital, which could result in SWAH providing for patients in Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim.
Ballyshannon Cllr Barry O’Neill says that while people from his locality would travel to Sligo to the hospital, it would be beneficial for patients to have the option to use cross border hospitals.
“In regards using SWAH, it would be beneficial to people in Pettigo, and surrounding areas and possibly even people in Ballyshannon. It should be able to work both ways, the Sligo University Hospital should be able to help patients from Belleek and west Fermanagh, and likewise, SWAH should be able to benefit people living in Pettigo, Laghy, Ballintra, Rossnowlagh and Ballyshannon.
“There should be a cross border arrangement that should be looked at. Before the new hospital was built in Enniskillen there was certain procedures carried out in Sligo but off course the elephant in the room is Brexit.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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