A FERMANAGH patient who was transferred Altnagelvin for a scan, as the service was not available at the South West Acute Hospital on the day they attended, had to wait five days for the procedure at Altnagelvin.
The patient’s daughter spoke to the Herald this week about the painful journey and long wait her mother recently faced to get the CT scan, noting the experience was reflective of that now facing patients in Fermanagh who require urgent medical treatment, including those requiring emergency surgery, which has been suspended at the hospital.
Having attended at the SWAH ED on a weekday morning, the woman was told she would need to be admitted for the scan and for observation, as she previously had a serious medical condition. However, she was then told she would not be able to get the scan at the SWAH and would need to go to Altnagelvin.
“At about 5 o’clock we were told to go up to the ED and that there was definitely a bed for her,” said her daughter.
“They offered her an ambulance, and I said I would take her because I wanted to make sure I was with her and she got sorted, and also because the bumps on the road would make her pain worse.
“So up we went to ED and it was at maximum capacity, I think it holds about 70 people. I went up to the ED desk and she said there were no beds, and we were the second or third up from SWAH that day, and there were no beds.”
It was around 8pm by the time the woman and her daughter arrived at the Derry ED, where she once again had to go through triage. By 2am, her daughter had to leave and return to Fermanagh as she had work that morning.
The woman then spent the night on a chair in Altnagelvin ED, where she met other Fermanagh patients. At around 11 o’clock the next morning, while she was still in the ED, she was told she had Covid and put in a cubicle, only to be later told she did not have the virus.
Three days after presenting at the SWAH, the woman was finally admitted to a ward in Derry. However, it was another two days before she got her scan, and another day before she got the results of the scan, bringing her stay to six days. Thankfully, she was given the all clear.
“Everyday she was being told she would be having the scan tomorrow, but she went to Derry to get the scan that night,” said her daughter.
The daughter said what her mother, and other local patients, had gone through was “a disgrace” and asked how the Western Trust had allowed the situation to come to what it has.
Full of strong praise for the staff at both SWAH and Altnagelvin, stressing everyone was lovely to her mother, she said, “Why on Earth did the Trust allow one hospital to be run to the ground, and lose its services, and then have it all sent to Altnagelvin, which is at capacity? How do they expect staff to be able to cope and stay there?”
The woman also called on the people of Fermanagh to “stand up for their rights” and to make their anger clear at the ballot boxes in the election, and said “Stormont needs to step up.”
“It’s so sad to see that in 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, we’ve had 10 years without a government,” she said. “It’s way beyond the green and orange vote.”
When asked why patients were being transferred from SWAH to Altnagelvin for scans, the Trust said a 24 hour, seven day radiology service was still available at the Enniskillen hospital, with a full staff rota.
However, the Trust spokesman added, “To ensure timely access to radiology services, it is important to note that patients can be referred to any of the Trust’s three hospital sites.
“For example patients from the Derry area can be referred to radiology services in SWAH or Omagh and via versa.”
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