Ronan O’Hare, assistant medical director at South West Acute Hosiptal (SWAH) and the Tyrone County, has said it is “without doubt” that the closure of two nursing homes in Enniskillen over the past 18 months has led to pressures on Emergency Care services at SWAH.

Figures released by the Department of Health last week show that, in December 2018 95 percent of patients who needed admitted to hospital following arrival at the Emergency Department were seen within 19 hours and 42 minutes. This is an increase of almost nine hours from the same time period 12 months previous.

The figures also show a drop in the percentage of patients either discharged or admitted within four-hours of presenting at the emergency department. SWAH fell from 70.6 percent in December 2017 to 63.3 percent in December 2018. Of the ten emergency departments in Northern Ireland seven saw a fall with SWAH the sixth best performing of the ten. None of the ten departments came close to the Department of Health target of 95 percent.

According to Dr. O’Hare there has been unique pressure placed on SWAH in recent months:

“It is without doubt that the closure of the two care homes has had an effect. Beds were lost and that is going to have a knock-on effect,” he said before adding:

“The Trust has absolutely no control over those closures, but it puts added pressure on. We have patients admitted to the hospital who should be in the community and who would do better in a community setting and hospital is not the best place for them.”

The two care homes that closed were Drumclay Care Home, which closed in December 2018 and Ashbrooke Care Home that closed in 2017, after

The two care homes represent a combined total of 184 beds that as yet have not been replaced. However, Runwood care Homes, the company who owned Ashbrooke, are set to reopen on the same site under a different name. On their website they are advertising “Meadow View” as a “beautiful, new residential care home in Enniskillen providing expert care for older people, including those living with Alzheimer's or dementia and so requiring dementia care”

Returning to the figures released by the Department of Health last week relating to Emergency Department performance it showed that 24 more people attended the Emergency Department in December 2018 than did in December 2017; 3,015 attending in December 2018 compared to 2,991 a year previous.

Dr. O’Hare was quick to heap praise on the staff that are working in the emergency department, and indeed throughout SWAH:

“The staff are fantastic. We had a major incident a few weeks ago and staff came from all over to help. That is the type of people we have working in the trust. They are embedded in the community here, they know the patients which is something that does not happen in a city hospital.”

He went on to say that the Trust are determined to improve healthcare within the area of Fermanagh and west Tyrone

“We can only solve this with the help of the community. There is an aging population in the area and that is one of the many reason why it so important that we get engagement from people through the pathfinder initiative.”

The pathfinder initiative has been headed up by Deputy Chief Executive Kieran Downey and Dr. O’Hare has been giving talks community held pathfinder meetings.

“I would urge everyone to get along and talk to us. We want to hear what people have to say because we will only make things better together, and we have to make things better.”

For more information on Pathfinder events in your local area please visit