Local Independent Labour Councillor, Donal O’Cofaigh, has shared correspondence from Western Trust Chief Executive Dr. Anne Kilgallen relating to the future of paediatric and neonatal inpatient services at South West Acute Hospital.

Councillor O'Cofaigh has claimed that Dr. Kilgallen has confirmed to him the Trust's intention to reopen inpatient paediatric and neonatal services at SWAH commencing May 25. However when the Impartial Reporter asked the Trust to confirm if this was the case a spokeswoman was unable to do so.

On Tuesday of this week the Impartial Reporter sent detailed queries to both the Department of Health and the Western Trust asking about the possibility of these inpatient children services being reopened at SWAH. No response was received from either body but it now appears that detailed plans are in place and that the Western Trust are waiting for regional authorisation to move forward. 

This evening when the Trust was contacted by this newspaper to confirm Dr. Kilgallen’s correspondence with Councillor O’Cofaigh a spokeswoman declined to do so; stating: “it is my understanding that the HSCB (Health and Social Care Board) are providing this response.”

Paediatric and neonatal inpatient services at SWAH were originally closed as part of a multi-phase plan to deal with the expectant surge in Covid-19 cases. The closure of these services at SWAH was part of the first phase.

Councillor O’Cofaigh explained in a press release: "After councillors were provided a copy of the briefing of WHSCT CEO Dr. Anne Kilgallen to the Trust board on May 8, at which she indicated her intention to move to swiftly reopen both the Paediatric ward and Neonatal unit but pointed to the need for regional authorisation, I wrote to Dr. Kilgallen…to confirm the status of this report. I also requested guidance on whether the authorisation required was to come from Ministerial or Health Board (HSCT) level…I received a response from Dr. Kilgallen in which she confirmed that plans were at an advanced state to reopen these facilities on May 25 and that she was simply awaiting authorisation at regional level to proceed; authorisation she expected to come later by today.”

It is unclear where that authorisation will come from.