A FERMANAGH patient has praised the dedication of SWAH emergency department (ED) staff, but has hit out at the removal of emergency general surgery at the hospital, stating she dreads to think how it will impact the local community.
Kate Mulligan from Enniskillen recently had to attend the local ED due to an extremely painful bowel condition, diverticulitis.
Having been sent straight to the hospital by her GP, after suffering all weekend, she arrived early on a Monday at an extremely busy SWAH ED earlier this month, with scores of patients on trolleys and patients like herself being examined behind screens in the waiting area.
Kate said the staff went above and beyond, through it all. For example, she noted a nurse named Trudy had made sure to get everyone who was waiting for treatment off their chairs and into beds.
“She said no one was going to spend the night on a chair,” Kate said, adding the other nurses “were like furniture removers,” bringing in beds for all who needed one.
Kate said while there she had got speaking with many other patients, including a young man with a blocked bowel who had been sent from Altnagelvin, as its ED was under pressure, and an 82-year-old man who had come to the SWAH as both Omagh and Altnagelvin had been too busy that day.
While she had to be admitted to the hospital, finally getting a bed on the Tuesday morning, Kate said she did not need surgery but noted others with bowel conditions would now have to be sent to other hospitals. Noting her own condition had been excruciatingly painful, she said she didn’t want to think how bad it would be for those with a blocked bowel, for example, having to make the journey.
“Even the bumps in the road in the car from my house were painful, I don’t know how I would have done that journey,” she said.
She added, “I was ill but I wasn’t extremely ill. To think of the pain at the time, even my husband was scared, to expect you to travel 70 or 80 miles when you’re passing a brand new hospital, a hospital we’re extremely proud of, to go to a hospital in Derry.”
Encouraging everyone in the local community to get behind the campaign to save the service, she said people power could make a difference. She said while at the ED she had asked other patients if they had been planning to attend the recent public rally at the Lakeland Forum, but many said they thought there was no point.
“That is so wrong,” she said. “People can make changes if there are enough numbers.”
Kate noted around 80 per cent of the population of Fermanagh had not attended that meeting.
“They are the ones who will sit on their armchairs giving out the worst, but they’re not willing to get up off their armchairs and do something about it,”
She also called on local MLAs and MPs to step up and fight for the service, adding, “Isn’t it terrible that someone like Dylan Quinn who isn’t elected in this county has the loudest voice.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition