Families endure ‘terrifying’ journey to Derry for care

LAST weekend’s freezing fog has once again brought home the reality facing Fermanagh patients since the removal of emergency general surgery (EGS) from the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH), with local families having to take a treacherous journey to bring their loved ones for treatment in Derry during the Arctic conditions.
When the Western Trust first withdrew the life-saving service from the Enniskillen hospital in December 2022, it stressed any patient requiring transfer to Altnagelvin Hospital for emergency surgery would be transported via ambulance.
However, it quickly emerged most local patients were being asked to make their own way to Derry. While the Trust initially strenuously denied this was the case, calling into question accounts from patients given to the Herald, it has since become common knowledge and common practice.
Just as it has also become common practice for SWAH surgery patients to have to rejoin the ED queue in Altnagelvin, having already gone through the ED process in Enniskillen – again, despite assurances from the Western Trust to the contrary.
This week the Herald has been contacted by traumatised family members who reached out after their terrifying journeys to Altnagelvin during the freezing fog at the weekend. A journey which, with extreme conditions, took almost three hours from the front door of the SWAH.

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