THE PEOPLE of Fermanagh are being urged to unite in the fight to save services at the SWAH, with concern the hospital’s acute status could be under threat, and local lives could be lost, due to the expected removal of emergency surgery.
While the Western Trust has insisted no decision has yet been made on the future of acute surgery at the hospital, the Herald understands an announcement on the withdrawal of the service is imminent.
Cllr Paul Blake, who last week stated in the Council chamber that he had learned the Trust was intending to announce the withdrawal of the service, is also standing by his source.
Now, a prominent local health campaigner has urged people from all sectors of society in Fermanagh to come together to fight the withdrawal, which could have a knock-on affect on other services, including the hospital’s emergency department, or obstetrics and gynaecology. It is also feared the move could put more pressure on the ambulance service.
Una O’Reilly, who was heavily involved in the successful fight to save local maternity services many years ago and has been involved in campaigns to protect other services in the years since, told the Herald whether or not the Trust had finalised its decision yet, “people should be able to get up and do something.”
“People power works, no matter what the situation,” she said, adding the current concern was “not scaremongering” and the threat was real.
Ms O’Reilly urged the younger generations to lead the fight, but said everyone in the community needed unite behind the hospital.
“Our younger generation needs to realise what this is going to do to the community,” she said. “Younger people have moved back to this area to work from home… They won’t want to come and live where we have a run down hospital.”
Adding hospital employees should not be afraid of challenging the removal of services, not least to protect their jobs, Ms O’Reilly called on community groups, churches, youth clubs, and all types of organisations in the county to get on board too. She added the local tourism organisations as well as Fermanagh companies seeking employees should also be involved, with a fully functioning hospital an attraction to the area.Noting the knock-on affect the removal of any service could have on other hospital services, Ms O’Reilly called on politicians to put their differences aside and unite in their support for the SWAH, noting health was an issue that transcended the community divide.
As reported by the Herald repeatedly since April, a Trust review of the acute surgery provision at the Enniskillen hospital has led to concern the acute surgery service may be moved from SWAH to another site. It is understood the service has been experiencing staffing issues.
In June, Trust chief executive Neil Guckian said tough decisions would have to be made regarding the SWAH service, and said the Trust review was assessing its sustainability.
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