SOAS working with health bodies to restore SWAH surgery

WHILE there it may not be running any current public campaigns or planning any demonstrations in the near future, the hard working team at campaign group Save Our Acute Services (SOAS) are still working tirelessly in the background to restore emergency general surgery (EGS) to the SWAH.
Following the huge success of the SOAS drive to get tens of thousands of locals to respond to the Department of Health’s public consultation on the location of specialist bariatric surgery, the team haven’t been resting on their laurels, continuing to lobby the powers-that-be to restore the life-saving EGS service at the Enniskillen hospital.
Noting SOAS was made up a community committee and an executive committee, a spokeswoman said while some of their work might be more visible than other work, all this work was continuing unabated.
“We have met with all the major stakeholders in health provision in Northern Ireland. From the Department of Health to the Public Health Agency, both of whom are there to ensure the safe provision – the best provision possible – for all the citizens in Northern Ireland,” they said.
“We have communication ongoing with those bodies.
“We’ve spoken with the NI Ambulance Service, we’ve met with the Trauma Network, we have logged our concerns about patient safety and patient care with RQIA and have been communicating those since April last year.”
They added they were also in continuous contact with politicians on the matter, noting “ultimately politicians will answer to the population.”
“Those are the people on the ground, the people who will count, and those who are the people who should be asked what they’ve done, how much longer it seems reasonable for a Fermanagh life to be kept suspended in transit than any where else provincially,” said the spokeswoman.
They said it the need to restore the EGS service was as great as ever, with the stories shared regularly by patients highlighting the dangers of the current situation.
“We know factually, that we are in a unique situation because of our extreme rurality,” they said.
“Every year the health inequalities, even before they removed the surgeons, indicate we are an area of deprivation with the poorest access to emergency services.
“Preventable morbidity rates are increased in the most deprived areas. The difference in the most deprived areas and the least deprived areas in the province, are that preventable deaths are treble in the poorer areas than they are in the better off areas. That is massive.”
The concluded, “Our mantra continues to be that every life matters, and every job matters.
“Patient stories, at this stage, are becoming much more frequent, much more open. There’s willingness to share. So are the contacts from staff.
“We fundamentally applaud both of those group for coming forward, because the Trust is still stating patient care hasn’t been affected by the removal of the service.”
To keep up with the latest news from SOAS visit the group’s information window, regularly curated by community committee member Toni Johnson, at Church Street in Enniskillen.

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