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CITY TRIBUNE

Up to 200 a day attended Emergency Dept over Christmas

Denise McNamara

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It will be the end of the month before the next tranche of beds are opened in the new 75-bed unit due to the difficulty in recruiting staff – which will only further exacerbate overcrowding.

General Manager of University Hospital Galway (UHG) Chris Kane said patients in the infection control ward were moved over to 25 of the single en suite rooms at the end of December. The new unit had been completed in mid-November.

However, plans to open the next 30 beds in the new unit have been put on hold until at least the end of January due to a shortage of staff.

St Dominick’s Ward was next due to be moved to the state-of-the-art unit.

She told Galway Bay FM that hospital management had sought approval for staff to manage 30 beds but will likely only have approval for 23 or 24 beds.

Conditions were again very difficult in the Emergency Department with 200 attendances on some days over the festivities. Many patients were presenting with respiratory and flu-like symptoms, she revealed.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) Liam Doran said his members did not blame local management for the severe shortage of staff which was significantly contributing to the overcrowding.

He said that 100 acute beds and over 200 nursing staff were required immediately to alleviate pressure at UHG.

Without improved conditions at the biggest hospital in the region, there would be continued problems attracting new nurses and retaining the ones already there.

Last year there were 80 vacancies for nursing staff in emergency departments nationally. Recent figures showed that had jumped to 140.

“Local management in Galway are dealing with the resources that are given to them. My organisation would say we need 100 more acute beds in Galway, 200-plus board nurses in Galway. Nobody is going to argue against that but nobody has a plan to deliver that . . . in terms of investment in capital infrastructure, building, or investing in staffing infrastructure,” he fumed.

“. . . They’re told they’re over the employment ceiling, they’re over the pay budget . . . all of this bureaucratic rubbish which ignores the reality that dozens of patients every morning are on trolleys and it’s short staffed.”

He predicted the situation with staffing would only get worse, pointing out that any manager had to go through up to eight layers of bureaucracy to get the authority from the national organisation of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to replace any staff member who had left.

“No nurse who has a choice will remain in Galway if they have an option to go elsewhere because of an excessive workload, constant overcrowding and a lack of respect from the health system as a whole towards their needs and their needs mirror the needs of patients which are being neglected – in capital letters – every day,” he complained.

The end of year figures from the INMO show there was an improvement at UHG’s emergency department compared to 2015 – 5,807 patients at UHG endured delays on a trolley as they awaited admission to a ward – down from 6,514 the year before.

A decision on a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed unit was due at the end of last March but an announcement on that decision has been postponed.

Ten years of pumping money into Galway city’s two public hospitals has resulted in fewer beds. The latest financial figures show that €109 million in capital projects had been spent at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Merlin Park since 2006 while at the same time 157 fewer beds were now in the system.

CITY TRIBUNE

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
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

Future of Leisureland secured through increased Council funding

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The future of the Leisureland pool and gym facility, which last September faced possible closure due to the Covid emergency, has been guaranteed for the coming year, following an increased financial subsidy from the City Council in their 2021 annual budget.

City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, told the Galway City Tribune that the local authority was committed to the future of the Leisureland facility and had increased the subsidy for 2021 from €300,000 to €500,000, in the process securing its viability for the coming year.

“We are all acutely aware of the value of the Leisureland facility, not only to local clubs but also to the many, many people who use the pool and gym on a weekly and often on a daily basis.

“Like so many other aspects of life and leisure in Ireland, the coronavirus emergency had a hugely negative impact on the viability of the facility, but thankfully we can now look forward with confidence to its continued usage in 2021,” said Mr. McGrath.

He also said that the City Council was committed to the further enhancement and usage of the greater Leisureland site which could act as a focal point for the regeneration of the entire Salthill area as a major local and national tourism centre.
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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