New councillor pushes for answers on health initiative

THE future of our local health service has been one of the first issues to come up for discussion at the first meeting of the newly elected Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh called for clarity in regard to council involvement in the Pathfinder initiative set up by the Western Trust to gauge public opinion on the future of the health service. The project relates to the future direction of health care here and is lead by the Trust.
He said that was his understanding that an oversight body involving key partnership bodies had been set up. He added that he had been made aware of engagement between the Trust and the Council in regard to the project and requested clarity on what had taken place between the two bodies. 
It was outlined that the Council have had involvement in relation to a community planning aspect and that there is a steering over-sight group, made up of senior representatives from various bodies. 
Council CEO Brendan Hegarty said he had not been a part of any of the meetings due to unavailability adding that if it is the wish of the council that he does not participate then that will be the case. 
Cllr O’Cofaigh added, “My concerns around it are that the process itself should be bound by the principals of co-production, but the reality is apparently very different. I would be quite concerned that this council would have an input into the process, if it is not too late to make it a more partcipative process.
“If there is going to be a reshaping of health services in this county we need to have local people at the centre of this as opposed to things being implemented above our heads.” 
It was proposed that a meeting of the health and social care group of councillors should take place. Cllr O’Cofaigh also proposed that contact should be made with the Western Health and Social Care Trust in regard to Pathfinder to schedule a meeting to discuss issues the council may wish to raise. 
Cllr O’Cofaigh also spoke about the ongoing consultation in regard to reshaping stroke services. 
He questioned if the council could play a role in enabling communities and individuals to participate. “It is of vital importance to this area that we secure the optimum engagement in that consultative process,” he said.

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