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Charity’s new scheme allows families to foster a pet

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This year you can have a puppy just for Christmas – thanks to a Galway animal rescue charity that wants to place their pets with foster homes for the festive season.

MADRA’s resources are so stretched at this time of year that they are promoting pup fostering scheme – and that will give families the chance to see if they are suitable, without making the mistake of getting a dog they’ll find they cannot cater for.

MADRA – Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue and Adoption – is a volunteer-led dog rescue charity based in Camus but rehoming nationally.

Their dogs come from the general public, local authority pounds or veterinary clinics – as well as dogs rescued from cruel and abusive situations.

On arrival all dogs are assessed by a vet, they are vaccinated, wormed, treated for fleas, neutered and micro-chipped. All MADRA dogs are temperament-tested as well as medically treated.

The Galway charity rescued a total of 777 dogs last year – 474 of those dogs came directly from pounds. In total MADRA succeeded in rescuing eight per cent of all dogs transferred to rescue organisations nationally.

The latest report from the Department of Environment reveals that last year 2,896 dogs were put to sleep in Ireland – that’s down 620 on the previous year.

MADRA Chairperson Edel Commerford is ‘happy to see that the number of dogs being euthanized has come down further this year’.

“In our own county, we are delighted to see that the put-to-sleep rate has been reduced this year to 7%. When we first started working with Galway County Council this figure was 83% and that was only eight years ago,” she added.

And although reducing the number is a positive step, MADRA has ambitions beyond that. They actively support, encourage and promote the neutering of dogs as an ethical solution to the over-population and killing of dogs in Ireland.

Eileen Keleghan of MADRA claims dogs end up in pounds primarily due to “lack of neutering and lack of thinking.”

MADRA’s mission is to match the right dog to the right owner – and in order to do this they need as much information as possible and ask people to fill out an adoption questionnaire.

They ask that potential foster homes are equipped with adequate space; they must also provide for the pooch to sleep indoors and must be available to spend time with them.

“These are frail little pups. They need company, love and attention,” says Eileen.

All new foster and adoptive owners will be provided with a free consultation and training session with a qualified trainer – MADRA is run under the management of registered dog trainers Marina Fiddler and Tara Nic Dhiarmada. A full back-up service is also available should somebody encounter problems with their new dog.

MADRA rely heavily on donations to meet their costs of over €100.000 per annum. The Department of Environment allows a grant of €3,000 – the rest of their income comes from the general public. Those wishing to adopt a MADRA dog or surrender a dog to MADRA are asked to make a donation – to cover the costs of neutering, vaccinations, micro-chipping, food and veterinary care.

Persons interested in volunteering, fostering or adopting can contact MADRA via their e-mail address madradogrescue@gmail.com or alternatively text 086 – 8149026.

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s public hospitals short more than 160 nurses and managers

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Galway’s two main public hospitals are short more than 160 nurses and clinical nurse managers, Saolta University Healthcare Group has confirmed.

And it has been conceded that staff shortages are impacting on the care patients receive, and on hospital management’s ability to reopen closed wards.

University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park Hospital currently have 141 staff vacancies for nurses.

This figure of vacant nursing posts is likely to be far higher because it does not include the number of staff nurses on maternity leave and relates only to vacant nursing positions.

A further 26 clinical nurse manager positions remain unfilled at UHG.

These are permanent posts and cover a wide range of areas across the acute hospital. The vacant positions are in the Emergency Department as well as on wards, and in areas such as patient flow, clinical facilitators and outpatient services.

Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operating Officer of Saolta, confirmed the staff vacancies in response to a question at the HSE West Regional Health Forum on Tuesday submitted by City Councillor Martina O’Connor (Green), a trained nurse.

Speaking to the Connacht Tribune, Cllr O’Connor said to be down 26 nursing managers and 141 staff nurses was “phenomenal”.

“It’s a huge number and it just goes to show how the hospital is trying to function without these front-line staff who are vital in the day-to-day care of patients on wards and in the Emergency Department,” she said.

Cllr O’Connor said it was “inevitable” that patient care was suffering due to the shortage.

In reply to a question from County Councillor Daithí Ó Cualáin (FF), the Chief Executive Officer of Saolta, Tony Canavan said the Cardiothoracic Ward at UHG has been relocated.

It has 10 patients currently with a further three beds to be opened in the autumn. And he said that the plan is to open 14 beds in St Nicholas’ Ward, “for which staff are being recruited”.

But Conamara Councillor Ó Cualáin, a nurse, said he was “extremely concerned” there were 141 nursing positions vacant.

“This is impacting patient care and putting nursing staff under extreme pressure throughout the hospital,” he said.

And he said it was impacting the reopening of 14 beds at St Nicholas, because it was not safe to open without more nurses.

“The recruitment of additional nursing staff needs to be undertaken as a matter of urgency and the delays encountered throughout the system from interview to staff being in position on the floor needs to be expedited. It currently takes between three and six months to have nurses in the vacant positions from the date they are interviewed,” added Cllr Ó Cualáin.

Previously Galway West TD Catherine Connolly (Ind) complained that St Monica’s Ward at UHG had been closed for two months this year due to low levels of staffing.

At the HSE Forum meeting last December, Saolta said it would embark on its largest ever overseas recruitment campaign to fill vacant nursing posts.

During that meeting Saolta said it had 600 unfilled nursing and midwifery positions across its seven hospitals in the West and North West but it did not give a breakdown.

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Connacht Tribune

Connemara ambulance service ‘only on paper’

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North Connemara has an ambulance service on paper only because its crew is based mostly in Mayo.

Galway County Councillor Daithí Ó Cualáin (FF) said a new ambulance service for Connemara was announced with ‘much fanfare’ by the HSE after a lengthy campaign by locals.

But he claimed that the North Connemara ambulance crew is based mostly in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, and not County Galway.

“They start their shift and end their shift in Clifden but they spend most of their time in Ballinrobe,” he fumed.

Cllr Ó Cualáin told the latest HSE West Regional Health Forum that this was not what the people of Connemara had campaigned for when they lobbied for ambulance cover.

He said that the ambulance crew based in An Cheathrú Rua was being “pulled into Galway”, which left the Conamara Gaeltacht exposed.

He added that with the rising cost of fuel, it was not an efficient use of ambulance resources.

Cllr Ó Cualáin, a nurse, welcomed confirmation from the HSE that it intends to lodge a planning application in July or August of this year to covert the old health centre in Recess into an ambulance base to serve North Connemara.

John Joe McGowan, Chief Ambulance Officer HSE West, said the preparation of planning documents for the project was “at an advanced stage”.

Mr McGowan said that the North Connemara crews of Emergency Ambulance and Rapid Response vehicle currently commence and end their shifts in Clifden.

He said that during their shift they are “dynamically deployed within the area”.

If An Cheathrú Rua and Clifden crews are out on jobs, then they provide cover. If both Clifden and An Cheathrú Rua are at their stations, “they cover in Ballinrobe deployment point until such time as they are required back in either Clifden or An Cheathrú Rua”.

Mr McGowan insisted this was a “temporary measure” until the building in Recess is ready.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council’s €16m budget overspend

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Galway County Council spent €16 million more than it budgeted for last year – with almost half of that down to waivers for rates.

In the last financial statement for 2021, it emerged that the local authority spent €152.6m for the year, against a budgeted expenditure of €136.6m.

The main areas where the budget ran over was €7.2m more given in waivers for rates, €3.6m for the Business Incentive Scheme and €5m more spent on roads.

Government initiatives to offset the impact of Covid helped rein in the overrun, allowing the Council to post a surplus of €20,315 for the 2021 books.

“All areas of council services came under pressure from increase service demands and unexpectedly higher input costs than had been anticipated,” head of finance of Galway County Council Ger Mullarkey stated.

“This led to overruns in certain areas but through expenditure control measures and recoupment of revenue incomes by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, it was possible to offset the negative impact.

“Particular difficulty was experienced in housing where the voids and energy retrofit programme resulted in an overspend.

“But payroll savings due to recruitment timing and recoupments from department for lost revenue more than compensated.”

Total expenditure was €884,000 greater than budgeted for in housing. Covid-19 had an adverse impact on parking income, resulting in income running at 50% of budget. Overall, there was an overrun of €308,000 in roads.

Chief Executive of Galway County Jim Cullen told councillors that the local authority would need an additional €20m to provide adequate services in the county. The budget for retrofitting of council houses would need at least another million to make significant progress.

To date Galway County Council has completed energy retrofits to 117 properties, with works in train on 14 properties with a further 30 at tender stage.

All properties that received the energy retrofits achieved a BER rating of A3 or higher.

At Gort Mhaoilir in Athenry 26 properties completed last week received a provisional BER rating of A. A further 34 properties will be tendered this year under the current retrofit programme.

Goss expenditure amounted to €80.7m, with housing and roads and transportation accounting for 90 per cent of total spend.

The councillors agreed to adopt the financial statement.

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