Health body is accused of stripping local services

THE decision to move cataract and varicose vein surgeries to ‘specialist centres’, none of which are in Fermanagh has been described as “stripping the West of yet more vital services under the guise of a prototype model of delivery”.
Following coverage in the Herald outlining that local cataract surgery is being moved to Magherafelt, Co Derry, a motion in relation to these changes to elective care was brought before the Council by SDLP Councillor Adam Gannon.
These changes have been described as a “prototype” for the Department of Health’s long-term elective care plan, which will see all day surgeries centralised at various locations, it was billed as a measure to reduce waiting times.
Cllr Gannon stated that this was done without public consultation or sign off of an elected Health Minister.
“All procedures have been removed from the Western Trust area and strangely where a signature should have been was left blank on this letter.
“This seemed odd to me that there had been no public consultation on these changes.”
Cllr Gannon said he would go as far as to question the legality of these changes. “While the Department say they haven’t broken any law I believe they have at the very least acted against the spirit of the law in yet another attempt to strip vital services from our area.”
Cllr Mary Garrity added, “We don’t want anything removed from the area and not in an underhand way.”
Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh remarked that this is part of what has happened over a period of years in regard to local provision.
“I have sight of statistics that show that 97% of people who live in the catchment area of Altnagelvin Acute Hospital receive care in Altnagelvin, whereas 71% of the people in the catchment area of SWAH receive treatment there.”
The motion brought by Cllr Gannon called on the Department of Health and the Western Trust to write to all cataract and varicose vein patients who had previously received letters to clarify that this is a prototype and allow them to choose whether to take part in this model of delivery or the existing model. Following a vote the motion passed.

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