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CITY TRIBUNE

100,000 appointments cancelled in Galway hospital over 18 months

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More than 100,000 hospital appointments in the West’s main hospital were cancelled in the past 18 months, the HSE has confirmed.

New figures released to Aontú confirm 61,232 appointments were cancelled at University Hospital Galway last year.

And so far this year, up to the end of June, there were a total of 44,220 cancellations of appointments at UHG.

Aontú representative in Galway, Luke Silke, said cancer screening, diagnostics and cancer treatment should never have been paused or reduced during the pandemic.

“I believe people lost their lives as a result,” he said.

The hospital initiated 34% of all cancellations, around 36,000. Patients initiated the cancellation of almost 14,000 procedures, or 13% of the total.

More than half are in an ‘other’ category, where the cancellation has been for numerous reasons including because the patient has died while on the waiting list.

Other reasons include the appointment was brought forward and the appointment was moved to accommodate other cancellations.

“The capture of all reasons was not possible in real time during the recent cyberattack,” said Chris Kane, General Manager of UHG and Merlin Park.

“It is important to note that not all hospital-initiated cancellations should be viewed as negative . . . in 2020 almost 4,000 patients had appointments brought forward and 155 were discharged back to their GP,” added Chris Kane in response to Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín.

Luke Silke said the cyberattack has had a considerable impact on cancellations, but he also blamed Covid-19 and Government curtailing hospital services during the pandemic.

“Many of the restrictions resulting from Covid-19 were well warranted to help curb the spread of the virus, but the Government was wrong to shut down our health service to the extent that it did. We all know someone who died with Covid-19, but we also all know someone battling cancer at the moment,” said Mr Silke.

“Cancer, no more than Covid, is a real threat to the lives and health of our population. Cancer screening, diagnostic services and treatment for cancer should never have been paused or reduced. Cancer services are essential,” he insisted.

The HSE’s winter plan has Government funding that will restore cancer services to 95% of pre-Covid capacity before the end of 2021.

“This is not good enough,” according to Mr Silke.

”Enormous backlogs have accumulated in the system, so capacity needs to be greater than it was pre-pandemic. The timeframe for restoration of services is also unacceptable. The first seven weeks of this year saw a 53% increase in GP referrals to Rapid Access clinics for cancer treatment,” he added.

“These figures suggest that capacity needs to be increased to 153% of the pre-Covid capacity. I understand people are fearful of the hospital setting, and are afraid of a fourth wave, but this fear must not prevent people from going to hospital.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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