Community urged to attend SOAS’s public meeting tonight

The local community has been urged to attend a meeting at Fermanagh House tonight (Wednesday) at 7pm on the need to protect previous plans for a specialist surgery service to the SWAH, a plan that is now under threat.

The meeting has been organised by Save Our Acute Services (SOAS), the campaign group focused on having emergency general surgery (EGS) restored to the SWAH, after details of the Department of Health’s consultation on obesity – which opened on Monday – were published at the weekend.

This consultation will determine which hospital in the North specialist bariatric surgery should be located in. However, as noted by SOAS, then Health Minister Robin Swann had already announced in 2019 that this surgery specialty was to be located at the SWAH.


“The hospital is the only one in Northern Ireland equipped to deliver such a service – which is not currently provided anywhere else in the region,” said a SOAS spokesman, who noted the plans for bariatric surgery at SWAH were abandoned after the removal of EGS from the hospital.

“SOAS is concerned that the current consultation being run by the Department is designed to pave the way for bariatric surgery to be taken from the SWAH and located elsewhere,” they continued.

“Such a decision would cut across any efforts to restore EGS at SWAH in the future.”

The SOAS spokesman added the creation of specialty services at the SWAH – including bariatric surgery specifically – was included in its ‘five-point plan’ to restore EGS.

“The focus of our campaign remains to restore emergency general surgery to the SWAH, but we have recognised early on that we cannot restore it on the same basis as previously as that was not working,” said Donal O’Cofaigh, pictured, from SOAS.

“We need to find ways to make SWAH attractive to consultant surgeons and that means using both ambition and imagination.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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