Cuba could provide assistance in SWAH staffing crisis

WITH the Western Trust continuing to struggle to recruit and retain medical staff to work at the SWAH, help with the crisis may be on the way from across the Atlantic.

Last week a letter from the Embassy of Cuba was delivered to the Council’s policy and resource committee, indicating the country could be ready to step in to help with the ongoing crisis.

Writing in response to a letter from the Council, Marta Castillo, who is in charge of cooperation affairs at the Embassy, said the request for medical personnel had been passed on to the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba.


Ms Castillo then requested the Council provided as much detail as possible on what staff and specialties were, and also suggested a video call with councillors on the issue.

At last week’s meeting, Cllr Eamon Keenan said he “never had any doubt” the Cuban doctors would take the Council’s request seriously. He also noted the Western Trust had said it was planning to advertise for staff internationally, and this was “a big opportunity.”

“It’s great to see such a positive response from a government department whilst looking for help here in Fermanagh,” he said. “It’s not something we’ve been used to recently.”

Cllr Keenan noted Cuba, despite living under heavy US sanctions, was willing to help people here. He proposed taking up Ms Catillo’s offer for an online meeting, and that the Council provided details on the consultant staff needed at the hospital. He also requested the Council pas on its thanks.

Not everyone in the Council was convinced by the potential offer of Cuban support, with Cllr Victor Warrington noting the doctors that could come would likely only be on a temporary basis, and instead we needed “permanent answers to our problems and not a sticking plaster.”

However, Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh said that while the Cuban doctors may only be here for a year or two, their presence could help stabilise the current situation until permanent surgeons are found.

“What we have is a severe crisis and anything we can get as a community should be welcomed,” he said.


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