SOAS submit document on withdrawal of Emergency surgery

HOSPITAL campaign group, Save Our Acute Services (SOAS) has submitted documentation amounting to 1,833 pages to the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) which details concerns highlighting patient safety and staff welfare in the South West Region following the withdrawal of emergency general surgery from South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) in Enniskillen.
The documentation identifies a very wide range of issues including insufficient bed capacities, staff welfare concerns, equality implications, journey times and patient transport risks.
The submission also details concerns around the ‘double ED’ experience where patients wait at SWAH ED before being transferred to Altnagelvin ED where they recommence their wait afresh – resulting in very long waiting times in ED.
The submission was worked in conjunction with patients and staff and reflects staff concerns.
The submission to RQIA repeatedly highlights the intolerable strain that the frontline staff in SWAH are being placed under.
The extra patients being sent to Altnagelvin in turn have led to very serious capacity issues. Altnagelvin staff now regularly state that the care being provided at times is sub optimal.
SOAS evidence very clearly that the responsibility for these pressures lie with Western Trust senior management.
They again point out that no risk assessment was carried out before this service removal from SWAH.
The campaign provided its submission after a number of engagements with the RQIA.
It has called for the regulatory authority to conduct a review of the public health implications from the removal of emergency general surgery from SWAH.
The research team continues to engage with all key health bodies to highlight its concerns. These concerns are very significantly focused on evidencing Altnagelvin’s inability to cope with the extra patient workload sent there from the South West Region.
Speaking for the campaign, SOAS spokesperson Donal O’Cofaigh, pictured below, said, “SOAS has presented what can only be described as very substantive submission worked up by our research team to the health regulatory authority.
“It is a very comprehensive and rigorous document evidenced throughout with statistical research, attested personal accounts by patients and staff and copies of documentation.
“Anyone reading the submission cannot but recognise the public health crisis that has resulted from the Western Trust’s decision in December 2022 to ‘temporarily’ remove emergency general surgery from SWAH. Our community now has only second-class access to basic life-saving medical care and treatment.
“In making this submission, SOAS calls upon the RQIA to initiate a review of this decision and its impact on the public health of our community and indeed on our human rights.
“Health Minister Robin Swann must now intervene and commit to work to restore and stabilise emergency general surgery at SWAH, on a sustainable basis with a range of ancillary services.
“As part of our next steps, the campaign is looking to meet with the Minister to present our findings and make the case for SWAH,” he concluded.

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