“We want the community to pull together to retain stroke services in our local hospital. We ask you as the public to attend our meeting and help us fight to keep all stroke services at South West Acute Hospital.”

This was the message from Fermanagh Stroke Support Group as it held a meeting last Monday night at the Stroke Group office at Cross Street, Enniskillen “to discuss and prepare for the WLCG (Western Local Commissioning Group) meeting in The Tara Centre, Omagh about the regional review of stroke services at SWAH.” Fermanagh Stroke SG organised a bus to assist with transport to last Wednesday's LCG meeting.

“A ‘Friends of the Stroke Support Group’ was also established last  Monday night as those present very much wanted to be part of a campaign to actively support our excellent stroke unit based in the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen,” outlined a representative.

He explained that Fermanagh Stroke SG’s meeting last Monday was open to the public “to discuss issues and concerns regarding the major public conversation about reshaping stroke services.”

“The meeting room was absolutely packed with people from all sorts of backgrounds including stroke survivors, carers, relatives, UNISON, health care staff and carers and many others that are concerned about the implications of the ‘Reshaping Stroke Service’ document,” he said, adding that a number of prominent politicians were also in attendance.

"There was an open floor discussion with many of those present talking about how time was of the essence and critical to give stroke patients the best possible chance.”

It was agreed to create a small working group to assist the Fermanagh Stroke Support Group in formulating questions to be asked at the Local Commissioning Group meeting arranged for last Wednesday

And for those unable to attend the meeting, the representative said “it was further agreed that everyone should return responses to the Health & Social care Board by 5pm on Friday, September 15 or by emailing.

Meanwhile in a statement last week, Councillor Raymond Farrell commented: “I very much welcome the decision taken by the Health and Social Care Board to host a consultation event in Fermanagh in September time and I was pleased to receive this news by telephone last Friday morning.”

Mr. Farrell continued: “I will join with others and fight to ensure real and meaningful services are both retained and enhanced at the excellent Stroke Unit at the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen. How well a patient recovers depends on how quickly they receive the necessary treatment. Indeed evidence from the top stroke units in Manchester and London would say a time within 45 minutes is vital.”

A series of public meetings due to take place in September, as part of the 13-week pre-consultation on reshaping stroke services, is set to include a meeting on September 11 at the Lisgoole Suite, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen, as one of six Northern Ireland venues.

During Fermanagh County Show recently, Stephen McAloon, Chairman of Fermanagh Stroke Support Group, and Patricia Moore, Treasurer, set up a busy stand, doing 250 plus blood pressure checks over the course of the two days.

They said they wished to raise the profile of the group and also said they would welcome new members. Based at 24 Cross Street, Enniskillen, they are there on a Tuesday from 11am to 1pm. They are also there any other day by appointment.

In addition to seeking new members, they are also seeking new volunteers urgently.

For details about the group, people are advised to contact Stephen or Patricia via 028 66 340490, mobile number 07707166122, or by their facebook page.