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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Accident waiting to happen’ at University Hospital Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Medical units within University Hospital Galway (UHG) were identified as potential accidents waiting to happen – after an independent inspection found half a dozen emergency exits were blocked by trolleys, chairs and equipment.

An inspection report by the Health and Safety Authority – released to the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI) – warned the West’s largest hospital of a series of breaches of law, including at its temporary Emergency Department.

As well as blocked emergency exits, the HSA highlighted problems with the advice given to staff about the use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to guard against biological hazards, such as Covid-19.

The HSA warned UHG that there was ‘no ventilation’ in the Covid-positive (red stream) Emergency Department waiting room and criticised UHG for its signage, which was inadequate and could “lead to inadvertent exposure to a hazard or biological agent”.

UHG management said it had taken steps to address overcrowding problems of blocked emergency exits but conceded it was “challenging to ensure that compliance is adhered to at all times”.

The HSA wrote to UHG last November, following an inspection of the unit on October 21, and outlined a series of breaches of health and safety legislation.

In correspondence released to the Tribune, the HSA indicated that the HSE Fire Prevention Officer had made UHG aware of its concerns on fire safety as far back as August 2021, but the issues highlighted ‘were not fully addressed’ by the time of the HSA inspection in October.

In an improvement notice issued to UHG, HSA inspector Paul Pearson said he observed a number of emergency exit routes and exits obstructed.

He found the emergency exit door in the Paediatric Emergency Department was obstructed; he found extra trolleys obstructed the main exit route in the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, which was being used as a non-Covid Emergency Department; the emergency exit of the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit was obstructed; the emergency exit and route on the corridor was obstructed outside the short-stay ward and Acute Medical Assessment Unit; two additional exit routes at the Acute Medical Assessment Unit were “obstructed by additional seating and equipment”.

The improvement notice warned UHG to “ensure emergency routes to emergency exits are kept clear at all times”.

In an official response, Chris Kane, General Manager of UHG, listed actions taken by the hospital to improve the dangerous situation highlighted by HSA.

But she conceded that use of trolleys has become part of daily life in the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, which was operating as a Green or non-Covid Emergency Department.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the report and the HSE’s response, see the May 13 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Cost of new Emergency Dept in Galway jumps to half a billion euro

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The projected cost for the new Emergency Department and maternity unit at University Hospital Galway (UHG) has now reached half a billion euro.

And the bureaucracy involved in getting it off the ground means its expected completion has been pushed back until 2027 at the earliest.

The project – described by the head of the Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, as the single largest infrastructural health project ever to be built in the West – still has some major hurdles to overcome before a shovel is put into the ground.

In an update at this week’s HSE Regional Health Forum West meeting, Councillor Declan McDonnell (IND) remarked that 2026 was the predicted opening for the new facility, yet the planning application had not even been submitted.

“Could it be ten more years?” he asked.

Councillors heard that a new Public Spending Code was brought in for projects predicted to cost over €100 million after the Saolta group had submitted a cost benefit analysis review which they were required to do under the old rules.

As a result of the change, management had to belatedly prepare a Strategic Assessment Report and a ‘Preliminary Business Case’ report. The first had been submitted to the national HSE last month and the latter was almost ready to send to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Assistant National Director of Estates in the HSE, Joe Hoare, said the final figure for the project would be “four to five times the €100m figure”.

(Photo: The temporary Emergency Dept under construction at the moment at UHG)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Street closures for outdoor dining in Galway challenged to An Bord Pleanála

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – An appeal has been lodged with An Bórd Pleanála challenging the legitimacy of road closures to facilitate hospitality businesses in Galway City this summer.

Galway City Council, following on from last year’s trial of on-street hospitality, introduced street closures again this year.

It is part of the Council’s ‘outdoor living’ strategy to encourage more footfall and to boost businesses – in particular pubs and restaurants – in the city centre.

The local authority has closed Small Crane, Raven Terrace, Dominick Street Upper, William Street West, Forster Street and Woodquay during certain hours in the evenings from May to October.

But a resident of Munster Avenue has referred the closures to An Bórd Pleanála and asked that it determine whether the closures constitute development and whether or not it is ‘exempted development’.

Exempted development does not require planning permission. If the Board finds that the closures are development and that the development was not ‘exempted’, then the street closures and the process they were introduced under, could be undermined and deemed to be contrary to planning laws.

An Bórd Pleanála confirmed the case had been referred to it for adjudication but it said it does not comment on ‘live’ cases. It is due to make a decision by September. The appellant who referred the case could not be contacted for comment.

Johnny Duggan, owner of Taylor’s Bar, member of West End Traders’, and chair of the Galway City Vintners’ Association, insisted the street closures were exempted development did not require planning permission and it was all above board.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Two tonnes of waste in canal – ‘the cost of outdoor living’ in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two tonnes of waste removed from the Claddagh Basin and Eglinton Canal during a clean-up last weekend is the cost of the pandemic transition to outdoor lifestyles, according to a Galway City Council official.

“Unfortunately, there has been an environmental cost to the outdoor lifestyles adopted during the pandemic. From the recent clean-up, we took out a huge amount of pint glasses, beer and wine bottles, bikes and even shopping trolleys. We all need to do our bit and use the bins provided in the city and not throw anything into the watercourses,” said Tiarnan McCusker, Environmental Awareness Officer for the Council.

Mr McCusker said that during the pandemic there was a “huge increase” in litter across the country, including in Galway City.

In response to this, the Council installed more bins in locations across the city and increased the size of the bins.

Mr McCusker attributed the amount of waste to the groups gathering outdoors during the pandemic.

“A lot of people were out drinking and congregating in the canals and generating a huge amount of waste by throwing things into them,” he said.

Councillor Niall McNelis – who is also chair of the Galway Tidy Towns Committee – said: “We want to make sure that these areas are well cleaned, and it’s not just a matter of the magicians that come in every morning and clean up the city when were all asleep in bed and clean up the mess from the night before. It takes a speciality to go into the water to clean up what they’ve done, and they’ve done an amazing job.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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