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100,000 appointments cancelled in Galway hospital over 18 months



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.”


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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