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A&E overcrowding at maximum despite extra beds



The Emergency Department at Galway University Hospital has been on Code Red or Black – the highest status in its new escalation policy – continuously for five weeks due to overcrowding.

On Tuesday, there were 36 people waiting on trolleys when the hospital issued a warning about excessive delays, urging people to stay away unless “in the case of real emergencies”. That was down to 32 by Wednesday morning and up from 25 on Monday.

The unrelenting pressure on the ED continues despite the opening of 17 new beds last month to accommodate more patients, with a further thirteen due to come on stream before the end of this month on the site of the old Physiotherapy and Social Work Department.

However the extra capacity has done very little to alleviate the lengthy waiting times for patients, insisted Clare Treacy, Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) industrial relations officer for the Galway region.

And it follows a national agreement with the INMO to implement an escalation process when 30% of patients are waiting more than nine hours on a trolley in the ED, which sets out specific steps to be followed to try and speed up the flow of patients. These include cancelling elective patients, arranging more step down beds in the community, organising transport for the discharge of patients and rushing diagnostic tests.

The hospital said it was procuring convalescence beds “on a daily basis” from private nursing homes and working closely with all the hospitals in the Saolta group to ensure that capacity on all sites is maximised.

“We’ve been meeting with management at UHG every week since just before Christmas and they’ve been in full escalation – either Code Red or Code Black – since January 6, apart from the one or two days that they have dropped back to Code Orange or Green,” Clare stated.

“There’s no escalation policy going to deescalate the situation in Galway in my view – only building a new Emergency Department and adequately staffing it.”

Yesterday management brought in private ambulances to move patients fit for discharge. However a promise to hire more staff has stalled as nurses spurn the chronic conditions at UHG for the less stressful atmosphere and better pay of private hospitals.

“I believe local managers are doing as good as they can do – they are having meetings, they are trying to improve the flow of patients through the hospital but there just aren’t enough beds, the ED is still small and way understaffed,” stressed Clare.

Ten ED nurses left the unit last year.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar stated that the new ED will go to design and planning stage after a cost benefit analysis is done by the end of March on a revised proposal submitted by the hospital management after their original plan was deemed overly ambitious. A further 75 beds are expected to open by the end of the year after various departments have been moved and other units built in a complex game of infrastructural chess on the highly developed Newcastle site.

In the meantime, planned surgeries are continuing to be postponed.

Almost 7,000 surgeries were cancelled at Galway’s two public hospitals in the past two years – that’s on average nine elective surgeries at UHG and Merlin Park every day of 2014 and 2015. Saolta, the group which runs Galway’s three public hospitals, was fined over a million euro for failing to adequately clear lengthy waiting lists across all disciplines for the final five months of last year.

However the practice of imposing fines is due to be reviewed for this year.

Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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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