The Western Trust stands accused of running down the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) following a public Zoom meeting that took place last Monday evening.
Cllr Eamon Keenan asked a question as to why job vacancies were more centred around Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, as opposed to the SWAH itself.
Previously, the Western Trust had been highlighting how difficult it had been of late to recruit consultant surgeons – a situation that they cited as influencing their recent decision to downgrade the emergency services of the hospital.
With that in mind, the answer that Cllr Keenan received from the Western Trust’s Chief Executive, Neil Guckian, came as a surprise.
Cllr Keenan said: “I asked why the most recent advertisements for consultants were for staff in Altnagelvin as opposed to the SWAH.
“The response I got from Neil Guckian was that they would have more chance of attracting new consultants if the advertisement was for Altnagelvin.
“He then went on to say that there would be less chance of attracting those consultants if they advertised for the SWAH.
“I found that answer to be very strange.”
Cllr Keenan was also critical of the way the whole meeting had been organised and how the Western Trust seemed to give the impression that they wanted the event done and dusted as quickly as possible.
He added: “I don’t think it was very open. This zoom meeting was very last minute. It was scheduled to last two hours but it only lasted around 56 minutes.
“The only way to ask questions was to post them via a chatbox. However, you couldn’t see who was asking the questions.
“The meeting itself, in the time that I was there which was the last 25 minutes, did seem very rushed. I think it was a box-ticking exercise as it wasn’t very engaging.”
The Western Trust did not comment on the alleged exchange regarding the job advertisements.
However, with regard to the organisation of the Zoom meeting itself, a Western Trust spokeswoman said: “This was set up to be a webinar where the Western Trust could present on the information from the developing Consultation Document and get feedback from Service Users.
“The Western Trust successfully used this approach with Service Users for the No More Silos project. We had some technical issues with the chat box function, and when resolved it would appear questions were only viewed by the panel, and not all in attendance.
This was not intentional and the panel were not aware of this during the meeting and responded to the queries as they were raised.”
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