In 1999 the then Chief Executive held fast to an idea of trying to site a new hospital across two sites between Omagh and Enniskillen.
This could not work for many reasons as no vital 24 hour anaesthetics, or ICU etc could be provided on both sites.
As the government appointed Hayes Review team who were charged with recommending a options were about to visit Enniskillen to hear ideas and proposals to address the issues, there were no plans for FDC to suggest the new hospital would be sited in Enniskillen, to allow those (especially in the south and west of Fermanagh) timely access to services.
Such was the imminent crisis that an emergency meeting of the Council was needed in order to try to get the District Council to put forward proposals for a hospital in Enniskillen when Hayes Review team came. Councillors were contacted, several did not wish to go against the chief executive and believed that half a hospital in each town was the right way to go and they were disappointed that Omagh was now pressing forward rational for siting the hospital there.
However, eight courageous councillors did sign a letter requesting an emergency meeting, to allow for a presentation showing how siting a hospital in Ennsikillen was a realistic proposal to be taken forward.
Those that signed the letter effectively turned the Council on to a new route of developing a proposal for Enniskillen, opening up to listen to hospital staff, and go forward to make representations to decision makers for siting a hospital in Enniskillen.
As the official opening of the hospital took place my thoughts were with those councillors who are not here to see it or are no longer district councillors at this historic time.
Thank you Councillors Wilson Elliott, Patrick McCaffery, Joseph Dodds, Tommy Gallagher, Bert Johnston, Basil Johnston, Tony Philips and Harold Andrews for signing the request for that emergency meeting in August 1999.
At least partly due to them, the people in the south and west of Fermanagh can still today access hospital services within an hour.
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