THE WESTERN Trust has appointed a new emergency medicine consultant to the South West Acute Hospital, former St Michael’s pupil Dr Stephen McKenzie.
The news comes as the Trust launches a new all-party group with local elected representatives from the five main political parties as part of a campaign to promote the SWAH as a great place to work. The group has been set up to help develop services at the hospital, recruit and retain staff, and build its workforce.
Dr McKenzie, who attended both St Michael’s PS and St Michael’s College, said he was “delighted” to take up his first consultant post at the SWAH, having qualified from Queen’s and trained across the North and completing a specialty training programme in emergency medicine.
“I have always wanted to work in emergency medicine and it is great to come back to work here in Fermanagh, where I live with my wife and two children, to this wonderful hospital,” he said.
“I worked here before as a foundation trainee, and was very aware that the facilities and high-tech equipment in SWAH is second to none. This is a really great place to work – the Emergency Department team are amazing and there are exceptional medical, nursing, AHP and support staff here.”
The all-party group, which also includes senior management from the Trust including chief executive Neil Guckian, recently met at the SWAH, welcoming Dr McKenzie’s appointment.
Dr Ian Crawford, consultant in emergency medicine and Trust clinical lead for unscheduled care, joined the group where it was re-iterated the SWAH emergency department remained a Type 1 ED.
This was in response to serious concerns raised by local campaigners that the local ED could be downgraded due to the collapse of emergency general surgery, given the definition of a Type 1 ED includes access to emergency surgical services on a 24 hour basis.
There has been much confusion at how the SWAH ED could remain a Type 1 ED as it no longer had any access to emergency general surgery, never mind 24 hour cover.
When contacted by the Herald asking about this definition, the Department of Health reiterated its definition of a Type 1 ED as, “A consultant-led service with designated accommodation for the reception of emergency care patients, providing both emergency medicine and emergency surgical services 24 hours a day.”
The Department then added SWAH’s status as Type 1 ED had not been impacted by the removal of the emergency general surgical service.
The Department has said, “No hospital in Northern Ireland provide all types of emergency surgical services and the definition does not require this. Even the larger hospitals with very busy EDs do not provide everything.
“In line with the definition, emergency general surgery is not a pre-requisite. What is required is emergency surgical services. The temporary (as currently the case in SWAH) or permanent (as proposed for Daisy Hill Hospital) suspension of emergency general surgery is not a removal of emergency surgery and those changes will therefore not impact on the type of ED which it is.
“This is not a new policy position. It reflects existing policy.”
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