Mass protest planned against SWAH cuts

WITH the axe hanging precariously over emergency surgery at SWAH – and potentially many more acute services and the entire status of the hospital as a consequence – a major public protest is being planned in Enniskillen in the coming weeks and the entire community is being urged to attend.
Last week the Western Trust said while it was not cutting its emergency surgery at SWAH immediately, staffing issues meant the service was reaching unsafe levels and if surgeons could not be found as soon as possible the service could be cut.
The announcement came on the back of reports by the Herald as far back as April that the Turst was reviewing the sustainability of the service and, more recently, after it emerged in recent weeks in the Council chamber that the decision to chop it had already been made.
With fears now the decision to remove the acute surgery service from the acute hospital could be formalised as early as mid-December, a group of local campaigners have formed a steering committee and are planning a mass protest at Enniskillen’s Broadmeadow for Friday, December 2nd.
The plan comes after a meeting, which was organised at the last minute in response to the serious threat to the service, was held at Fermanagh House last Thursday night. Despite the late notice, people from a wide range of backgrounds across the community turned out, including local patients, solicitors and campaigners.
There were also a small number of local councillors, including Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh, Cllr Paul Blake, Cllr Adam Gannon, and Cllr Eamon Keenan, although questions have been asked as to why more local politicians did not attend, particularly local MLAs.
Cllr O’Cofaigh said a steering committee was now being set up, with the aim of spreading awareness of the immediate threat to the hospital, and mobilising the community.
“What we’re going to do is go back into the community and organise our own consultation,” he said. “Basically with the aim of building towards a large Save Our Services at SWAH protest on Friday, December 2nd.”
He added, “What we have to do now is go back into the community, into every possible school, club, GAA team, Orange hall, whatever it is, and just engage with the community and tell them why we need to mobilise and what it means for us to save this service.”

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