Border residents can use closest health service

Fermanagh got a £24m boost this week with the announcement that health services in the border region are set to benefit from a welcome injection of cash from the European Union.

The news means that for many living right on the border, they will now be able to access health services in their opposite jurisdiction, which is often closer to their home.

The £24m has been secured from the European Union INTERREG IVA programme for cross border health and social care services. Both Health Departments headed the successful funding bid.

A range of vital health and social services are set to benefit patients and clients in a practical way. This includes the establishment of a specialist eating disorder service. It will offer an early intervention service; initiatives for older people in the area of telehealth and telecare; a diabetes education project aimed at women planning to become pregnant, and children and young people with diabetes.

The substantial rise in sexually transmitted infections is of particular concern, so additional clinics will be established in Enniskillen, Omagh, Letterkenny, Monaghan, Cavan and Louth.

The EU funding will be used to support 12 large-scale cross border health and social care projects and services up to 2013.

The process will be managed by the Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) cross border health services partnership on behalf of both Departments of Health. The CAWT partnership members are drawn from the Western and Southern Health and Social Care Trusts here, and the Health Service Executive in the South.

In the area of acute hospital services, extra consultants will be recruited to extend Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), as well as Vascular and Urology services on a cross border basis.

Elaine Way, the Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust, said the funding will allow the Western Trust to move forward with a range of cross border services over the next four years. This will ultimately benefit patients and clients.

“The funding will help to further strengthen cross border co-operation and will enable healthcare providers both North and South of the border to work closely together to address the specific health and social care needs of those patients and clients living in the border regions.”

Meanwhile, Tom Daly, Health Service Executive and the CAWT Management Board echoed that view.

All services and projects will involve the community and voluntary sectors in that a number will have a strong community and voluntary input.

These include a community-based approach to managing obesity, assisting children with autism and their families.