31/03/2006

Omagh A&E Unit transfers to Fermanagh

A demonstration has been staged in Omagh, County Tyrone to protest against the transfer of the hospital's Accident and Emergency Unit to the Erne hospital in County Fermanagh.

As from today, all A & E services, along with all major elective surgery provisions in Omagh, have been moved to the Enniskillen hospital; however, a 24-hour urgent treatment centre for minor emergencies will remain on the current site.

A spokesman for the Ambulance Service today said that the move would now mean that patients would have to travel for longer to receive emergency treatment. The estimated travel time from Omagh to Enniskillen, under emergency conditions is 30 minutes and is likely to put immense pressure on ambulance crews.

Commenting on the new arrangements, Raymond McCartney, Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Operations at the Sperrin Lakeland Trust, said: “While the overall number of patients affected by this change is small, it is nevertheless a very significant day for the staff in the County, as they adjust to new systems of working, and new staff arriving.

"They and colleagues at the Erne have been working hard to put in place the necessary changes while minimising any impact on patients during this time and we are all grateful to them”.

It has been reported that each year 23,000 people attend the Tyrone County’s A&E Unit, and over 90% of these patients will continue to be seen as normal in Omagh, however campaigners remain concerned about the 2,000 seriously ill patients that will have to make journey to County Fermanagh.

(EF/SP)

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