New Acute Hospital For Enniskillen Welcomed

Local MLAs, including Ulster Unionist, Tom Elliott and Sinn Féin’s Gerry McHugh have welcomed last week’s visit by the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey to the county. However, Mr McHugh was unhappy at what the Minister had omitted from his speech at the Erne Hospital.

The Minister was especially welcomed by his Party colleague, Mr Elliott who suggested that ‘the long running saga regarding the location of an acute hospital in the south-west of the province has been playing out over many years’.

“I am glad that at last the new facility in Enniskillen is starting to become a reality. The uncertainty that has surrounded the hospital and the loss of various services from the Erne Hospital has, in the past, damaged the confidence of the public and hospital staff alike. As construction, begins, I hope this confidence can be restored.”

He stated that an acute hospital was vital for the area and he pledged, along with other public representatives, to continue to work to ensure that ‘the services we deserve’ were available in Enniskillen.

He said that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety dealt with many issues that impacted on all our lives, many of which had been neglected under Direct Rule, and he wished Michael well in his demanding new role as he seeks to improve the health service in Northern Ireland.

Gerry McHugh had one bone of contention: he noted that the Minister, speaking at the Erne Hospital, had thanked many people involved in the Hospital project but had failed to give any recognition to Mary Maguire, Project Manager, and her team.

“They have had to endure abuse at many protests at meetings of the (Sperrin Trust) Board while delivering a lot of very good work getting the hospital project to this point. He also made no mention of (former Health) Minister Barbara De Bruin, who revolutionised the health services in the North from the ’40s to the 21st century by introducing illness prevention and ending over-bureaucratic trusts. She also set up the Hayes Committee and launched a White Paper on Developing Better Services.

“The Minister,” he went on, “mentioned a number of services for Omagh Area Hospital, including a 24 hour emergency service, but he appeared to be badly briefed about the situation for the new acute hospital in Enniskillen. Nothing was said about any services to the new hospital at Enniskillen. Are the services promised to us not all going to be delivered now?” he wondered.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust declined to comment at the omission of those named by Mr McHugh. However, it insisted that the profile of services for the new Acute Hospital for the South-West (NI) remained as outlined in the Phase 2 Outline Business Case for the project.

The Trust enclosed a profile of those services, starting with the Accident & Emergency Department, which, it explained, would be an enhanced facility and would include a major treatment and resuscitation area, a minor injuries’ unit and a dedicated children’s (paediatrics) area. The Department will be located beside the GP Out of Hours building.