“WE as a people in Fermanagh have woken up to the fact we are not being treated fairly, we’re not being treated with respect. In fact, we’re not being treated at all.”
Those were the words of Fr Brian D’Arcy this week, as the consultation on the future of emergency general surgery at the SWAH – and thus the mass letter campaign by Save Our Acute Services (SOAS) – approaches its end.
Fr Brian, who has been closely involved with the group and has been helping distribute the community letters, which set out a five point alternative plan for the hospital, was speaking to the Herald as the counting continued by SOAS ahead of the presentation of the letters.
He said he believed the campaign to save SWAH services had awakened the people of the county, who no longer were willing to accept cuts to such vital services.
“In the beginning there was a very Fermanagh middle of the road acceptance, a feeling there was no point in fighting – that’s why we never win the All Ireland,” he joked. “We take things too easily.
“What we have now discovered is that underneath that acceptance there is an anger that we are being treated as second class.
“We all know the problems in health care, we know that we have to do things differently from what we used to do.
“There’s one thing you can’t do, though. You can’t ask any patient, no matter where they are, in a first world country to travel two-and-a-half, two hours, or even an hour-and-a-half unnecessarily for treatment they should be getting in their own home, if things were properly managed.
“All we’re asking for is equality to having a healthy life, which is exactly what a Trust is supposed to do.”
Speaking of how local people had “woken up to the fact” they were not being treated fairly, Fr Brian said the community had “reacted magnificently” to the SOAS campaign, and had needed no encouragement to sign the letters.
“People wanted to sign, they were coming asking if they could do something or sign something,” he said. “They read it, saw there was a possibility, and that what there were being told that there is no future for the hospital is not the truth.”
Fr Brian commended the work of the SOAS group, including Helen and Jimmy Hamill and all the hard working volunteers involved.
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