The health service is in dire need of investment with health chiefs across Northern Ireland warning of the consequences to services and patients. Dr Anne Kilgallen, the Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust, told the December Board meeting of the Trust that “demand is increasing and will continue to do so meaning that the current system is simply unsustainable.”

Dr. Kilgallen said that Trusts had been “struggling” due to the fact that funding was only provided on a year by year basis.

The “New Decade new Approach” deal which was agreed upon by the parties and lead to the restoration of Stormont makes a commitment to return to “multi-year budgets which would underpin a multi-year Programme for Government”.

UUP MLA, Robin Swann, is the man charged with the Department of Health and the new Minister has possibly the most unenviable task of all the new Ministers.

In terms of Fermanagh the retention of stroke services at South West Acute Hospital will be known in the coming weeks and months. The Department of Health carried out a consultation into the future of stroke services across Northern Ireland in 2019, with four of the six recommendations seeing the cessation of all stroke services at SWAH.

With Stormont back up and running the responsibility of the decision on whether to retain services at SWAH falls to Minister Swann.

Waiting times in general across Northern Ireland have been rocketing in recent years. Looking at those waiting lists more closely the area of mental health provision is one that needs immediate attention in the Western area, with waiting lists for both Adult Mental Health and Child and Adolescent Mental Health services much worse than the majority of other health trusts.

Staff challenges in this area have been highlighted as one of the contributing factors to the long waiting lists and it is clear that long term sustainable staffing is a must if this service is to be provided to the optimum level.