SWAH BOSSES have warned of a “Herculean task” facing the hospital in the months ahead in dealing with the many potentially seriously ill local patients who have failed to seek treatment as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the latest update from the Western Trust on the fight against Covid-19 locally, Prof Ronan O’Hare, assistant medical director at the hospital, said number of infections and deaths in Fermanagh remained very low compared to other areas, and thanked locals for their social distancing efforts. However, Prof O’Hare said as the local health service returned to relative normality with regard the virus, it faced another serious problem in the months ahead.
“As the population continues to adhere to the restrictions, there has been a noticeable drop in those patients who do have symptoms of such things as colorectal cancer or breast lumps,” he said, noting referrals for serious conditions such as these and other diseases had fallen dramatically in recent times.
Prof O’Hare, pictured left, urged Fermanagh patients not to put off seeking treatment: “It is very important that if you have symptoms of disease that you go to your general practitioner or come to the hospital.
“This will be a real problem moving forward in the future as we change the way hospitals work and the way the population behave but continue to get what were serious pathologies and they will not go away.
“This is going to be a Herculean task, continuing to treat those patients given the current environment. You must be aware of your symptoms. If there’s something wrong with you, you still have to attend your GP or come to the emergency department.”
Prof O’Hare’s warning comes following figures obtained by the BBC last week showed the number of colorectal referrals across the North had fallen by 70 percent, while the number of gynaecology referrals had halved.