Independent Galway City West Councillor, Donal Lyons, has called on the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, to provide the people of Knocknacarra with an update on the primary care health centre the community was promised eight years ago.
The most heavily populated suburb in the city was earmarked as an area with a growing population by the Department of Health in 2008 and so was recommended as a location for one of the centres.
Primary care centres are designed to reduce overcrowding in hospitals by providing acute services such as GP care, a public health and practice nurse, a physiotherapist and occupational therapist as well as other services to people living within the community.
This ensures that those requiring urgent or planned medical treatment can receive it safely and professionally in a community based setting.
Doughiska was recommended as an area in need of a facility at the same time. That recommendation has since been delivered upon in the form of the East City Primary Care Centre.
According to Cllr Lyons, people have been approaching him wondering what became of their proposed primary care centre.
“They look across to the eastern side of the city and they see the primary care centre based in the centre of the population,” he said.
Due to the lack of these facilities, Cllr Lyons pointed out that elderly residents in Knocknacarra have to go to St. Francis’ Home in Newcastle to access some medical services.
While he admitted that this is a short journey to make, he believed it would be of benefit to local residents to have these facilities available in their own community.
This is especially important, according to Cllr Lyons, as Knocknacarra has a significant ageing population, and given that the population of the Westside suburb continues to grow.
Plans had been in place for the centre to be opened above the recently constructed Aldi supermarket in Knocknacarra. However, these plans were scaled back when, according to Cllr Lyons, ‘the doctors didn’t buy into it’.
Cllr Lyons maintained that finding a suitable site for the project would not be a problem if an assurance was given that the plan would go ahead.
“Down through the years, we have procured sites for community centres, schools and playing pitches. If they were committed to this, there’s plenty of land available around Knocknacarra,” he exclaimed.
Cllr Lyons has asked Independent TD for the area, Noel Grealish, to put a question to the Minister seeking assurances that the centre will go ahead without any further delay. He explained that Deputy Grealish was more than happy to ask the question on behalf of his constituents but it is now up to the department or the HSE to give answers to the people of Knocknacarra.
He also called on people to use the general election campaign as an opportunity to put pressure on candidates to ensure that this commitment is delivered on.
“It’s regrettable that we have to go down this road but it is time we started shouting about this,” he said.
He also acknowledged that there are funding difficulties for a project such as this but that, in the long term, these centres save much needed resources.
“We need this for the community going forward,” he said.