THE COMMUNITY campaign to save emergency surgery at the SWAH has only intensified since last week’s Western Trust announcement of the withdrawal of emergency surgery, with a large ‘Ring of Steel’ event taking place at the SWAH at 3pm this Saturday, November 26th.
Organised by Dylan Quinn from the Save Our Acute Services (SOAS) campaign, hundreds are expected for the demonstration, which is being held a week ahead of the major public rally planned for the Broadmeadow on December 2nd.
Those attending will assemble in the car park opposite the hospital, at Cross Cemetery, and walk across in a pre-arranged line. Further arrangements are being finalised.
Mr Quinn said the group were currently seeking volunteer stewards, and many had already volunteered, to ensure there would be no disruption to the hospital on Saturday and ensure the road and junctions are not blocked at any time.
“How many people turn up, we don’t know, but people are very enthusiastic,” he said. “I have heard from the staff that they are talking about it and feel it’s a very positive thing. They feel the community is doing something to protect them.”
Mr Quinn said the idea was to show solidarity with the staff and support for the hospital.
“We’re not going to do anything that will cause any disruption, it’s about giving support to the staff and reassuring them we as a community are here to support them and the services.”
He added, “The message we want to get across is that we are fully aware that the hospital itself is not under threat, our services are.”
The SOAS campaign group this week urged the community “not to trust the Trust”, following last week’s announcement.
Chairman Reggie Ferguson, adding almost 60,000 were being put at risk by being sent to far away hospitals, “This is why we don’t trust the Trust. People in Fermanagh deserve better and should not be the poor cousins to the rest of Northern Ireland.”
Secretary Helen Hamill said the removal of the service could have a wider impact on the local community, including the economy. She said SWAH was a top class facility that had been built to deliver quality healthcare locally.
“The need is still there, but some services are now being withdrawn,” said Ms Hamill.
“SWAH has never had the chance to breathe and reach its full potential. The large turnover of staff suggests that something has gone wrong at management level as we witness continuous haemorrhaging of highly qualified specialist staff.
“There is a danger that confidence will be irrevocably eroded in the service, and indeed in the hospital itself, if this issue is not resolved.”
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