A hospital campaign group in Newry - the Daisy Hill Hospital Action Group - has offered its support and solidarity to hospital campaigners in Fermanagh to retain their emergency general surgery service at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH).

In a statement sent to The Impartial Reporter, Francis Gallagher, Chairman of the Daisy Hill Hospital Action Group, said: "Our group would like to offer our support and solidarity to the people of Fermanagh in their battle to retain their emergency general surgery acute service [at the SWAH].

"We want to let you know that we are thinking about you and wish your campaign every success."

Detailing the situation in Newry, Francis said: "We are in a similar situation at Newry. Our emergency general surgery has been stripped from Daisy Hill Hospital.

"We have been told this is only temporary, but the concern is that it will be permanent."

Continuing, he said: "Medical professionals inform me that a local acute hospital rests upon seven pillars: acute medical, acute surgery, acute paediatrics, acute obstetrics, acute gynaecology, A&E, radiotherapy - that includes CT, MRI scanning and 24/7 anesthesia cover.

"Emergency general surgery is part of acute surgery.

"All these pillars are interdependent and if one is stripped away, they will all eventually collapse, and your [SWAH] ... will no longer have acute status, and your A&E department will be downgraded from level one to level two," he claimed.

"In plain language, this means that the much longer distance of travel for emergency patients and delays in diagnosis and treatments may mean poorer medical outcomes for local people," Francis added.