CUTTING emergency surgery at the SWAH could not only have “a domino effect” on many other services at the hospital, but could also harm the entire Fermanagh community for years to come.
That was yet another message from a meeting held at Fermanagh House last week, organised at the last minute in response to a statement from the Western Trust that the service would have to be chopped if surgeons were not recruited as a matter of urgency.
While the meeting was just the first step in a wider community response, the campaign to save the service will be stepping up around the county in the coming weeks, with a mass protest organised for December 2nd. Part of the planned campaign will stress to people the wider impact cutting the service could have.
Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh said, “I believe it is inevitable when we lose emergency surgery, the knock on effect will be to make unsustainable and unsafe other acute services at SWAH.
“In that context, you really have to question what sort of impact this is going to have in the long term future of our community.
“Think about a young couple coming back with the aim of raising a family here. If there is not a local maternity unit or ability to have a c-section, that’s a very big concern.
“At the same time, someone might want to come back home to retire, and enjoy this environment, if there is no stroke or cardiology – what’s the impact if there are no acute services? The real problem is the domino effect.”
Cllr O’Cofaigh said a steering committee was now being organised, with the aim of “getting as many people as possible aware of what’s happening, the significance of it.”
Thursday’s meeting was only attended by independents Cllr O’Cofaigh and Cllr Eamon Keenan, and Cllr Paul Blake and Cllr Adam Gannon from the SDLP, although other local politicians such as Sinn Fein have been meeting with representatives from the Trust on the matter in closed meetings.
While the public meeting was organised at short notice, questions have still been asked why other political representatives did not attend.
Cllrs O’Cofaigh and Blake have called for political unity behind the campaign to save the hospital and protect the community. They also called on everyone in the community, young and old from all backgrounds, to come out and use their ‘people power’ once again to save the service.
Cllr Blake said, “The South West Acute Hospital – always emphasise the acute – is at the heart of the community and if we want to ensure our families are protected, our babies are born here, then we need to fight. The way we fight is we mobilise and unite behind one another.
“Say to the politicians and the civil servants, it’s just not right. People’s lives will be lost by the decisions they are making. If that means nothing, then there’s something morally wrong. That is the cold reality, people will die if they have to make that journey.”
Noting people power had saved services in the past, he added, “Politicians can do so much, but it is the voice of the people is the thing that stops people making decisions. We need to unite, and mobilise.”
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