MANY SWAH staff are worried about their long-term future, despite assurances from the Western Trust that no jobs will be impacted by the suspension of emergency surgery at the hospital.
That’s the feeling coming out of the hospital since the Trust announced on November 17th the emergency general surgery service was to be withdrawn.
Cllr Debbie Coyle first joined the Erne Hospital in 2006, and has worked at the SWAH since it opened ten years ago. A healthcare assistant who has regularly worked in the SWAH’s emergency department, she is also a local union representative.
“The main feeling around the hospital is that people are worried about their jobs in the future,” Cllr Coyle told the Herald, “Not in the immediate term, in the next few months or so, but going forward they are wondering if our jobs are safe.”
Noting that many were still worried about the knock-on affect the removal of the service will have, despite assurances from the Trust, Cllr Coyle said she felt the Trust’s communication with the wider staff of the hospital – not just those who work directly in relation to emergency surgery – had been very poor.
Cllr Coyle also disputed claims from the Trust and others that the removal of emergency surgery from SWAH to larger hubs would be better for local patients.
“If you could be guaranteed an air lift and be in Belfast in half an hour then maybe [I would believe it], but they can’t, nobody can. It’s an emergency, it’s not something you can plan for,” she said, calling for more to be done to recruit surgeons to SWAH.
Cllr Coyle also stated she felt many of the issues currently facing the hospital were systemic, outlining how reform of social and community care could greatly help the current situation.
“We’ve got an acute hospital, and it really should be used for acute care. That would be my main concern,” she said, adding many staff feared the SWAH was becoming “a geriatric hospital.”
Cllr Coyle was referring to the long standing issue over delayed discharges from the hospital, with many elderly patients who no longer have acute conditions unable to go home due to care issue, which in turn leads to delays in patients being admitted via the ED. She called for more focus to be put on improving care in the community, including improving pay and conditions for carers.
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