Northern Ireland

Protestors heckle senior managers over future of South West Acute Hospital

The South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen. Picture byJohn McVitty
The South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen. Picture byJohn McVitty

PROTESTORS heckled senior health managers this week at a public meeting about the future of services at the South West Acute Hospital.

Tensions have run high with the local community since the Western Trust announced it would be suspending emergency general surgery because of a difficulty in recruiting surgeons.

A public consultation was launched in January, with protestors gathering outside for the first public event on Monday.

The BBC report that some of the protestors believed the outcome of the consultation was already pre-determined.

Dr Brendan Lavery, the Western Trust's medical director, insisted that no final decision had been made and that the Trust would present the facts and listen to the public.

"This is a public consultation, our role really is to listen, we are public servants and that is what we're going to do," he said.

During the meeting, speakers were often interrupted by people expressing their anger.

Speaking to the BBC afterwards, one woman said: "The fear is this is going to have a domino effect for our casualty and for maternity services.

"This is the start of it and we simply cannot afford to allow this to take place."

Another called the situation "a disaster," adding: "It's a shame the way they are doing this to our town."

Patients currently have to travel to other hospitals for emergency general surgery, but other services like the emergency department and obstetrics are operating as usual.

The consultation process will run into April with the Western Trust due to make a final decision by this summer.