A MEDICAL ward at the South West Acute Hospital at present has closed one third of its available beds.
The 24 bed ward has been reduced to a 16 bed ward, with the Western Health and Social Care Trust admitting that there are struggles to “recruit the required number of qualified nurses”.
Elizabeth England, Assistant Director of Nursing for SWAH and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex explained, “This is a 24 bedded ward, but unfortunately due to the number of staff currently on planned leave ie maternity leave, as well as unplanned leave such as sickness absence, the ward has been operating at 18 beds for a number of months.
“The beds are flexed-up and down in line with safe staffing numbers on a daily basis, and at this point in time ward is operating out of 16 beds whilst continued recruitment efforts are pursued.
“Ward 3 SWAH is a general medical ward and like many inpatient areas regionally and nationally has experienced difficulties recruiting the required number of qualified nurses. The Western Trust have put in place measures to recruit and retain staff in order to deliver safe and high quality care to our patients.”
Ms England also paid tribute to hardworking staff providing excellent care to patients.
Reacting local health activist and newly elected Councillor John McCluskey said, “I’ve been talking to a number people, staff and nurses who are frightened as to what is happening in the hospital. These are senior people.
“The night service is running down and there are places closing within the hospital,” he warned.
Cllr McCluskey called for greater transparency of information in regard to health care.
“I think there needs to be a joined approach between ourselves and trade unions and interested parties who are fully interested in opening this can of worms as to what is happening in the hospital. It needs to be kept to the forefront.
“I will stop at nothing in relation to opening up information in regard to what is happening in Enniskillen as well as everywhere else.”