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Councillors demand meeting over HSE waiting times ‘scandal’



Councillors from across the region united to demand a meeting with all senior HSE managers from the Saolta hospital group to account for the increased waiting lists a decade on from the replacement of the health boards.

Many councillors at this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting lamented the state of the health system across the western seaboard in the face of multiple high-profile managers whom successive ministers held up as the potential saviours.

Several members pointed to the single public MRI machine operating in University Hospital Galway (UHG) – a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for the region – as evidence that the system was just not fit for purpose.

Fine Gael councillor Padraig Conneely said during his recent stay at UHG, he met a Donegal woman and her daughter who discovered the MRI scanner was out of action when they arrived. Her daughter took up a bed for a week while the machine was being fixed; the mother, was forced to spend €60 a night in a B&B.

“What management would stand over a system like that in the commercial sector. They wouldn’t get any bonus or payout. That widowed mother was distraught. I got her a B&B myself for €40 a night. It’s scandalous what’s going on,” he fumed.

The HSE was set up in 2005 when the old health boards were dissolved as they were seen as too parochial. Cllr Conneely and Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind) were both on the first health forum in 2006, but in that period had seen all too little progress.

Cllr Connolly pointed to the growing waiting lists, increasing use of agency staff increasing and ever more public money going to private institutions to pay for procedures that could not be carried out within a reasonable timeframe in the public hospitals.

In relation to a second motion, in which she called on the minister for health to adequately fund the public health service, Cllr Connolly said there would soon be a “public purse onslaught” to fund increasing numbers of patients to seek treatment overseas.

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) said she knew of one patient who received a text from the HSE offering to pay transport and the cost of an appointment in a private Dublin hospital due to the waiting times locally.

The only MRI scanner in UHG should be operating past 5pm and at weekends to cut waiting lists, Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) insisted.

Chief Officer for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon Community Services, Tony Canavan, said clearly there were difficulties in the system.

“But it’s important if we’re looking at this openly, we’re also open to the possibility that good things have happened. In the A&E – lots and lots of people go through the A&E, and their experience is good, they’re not the kind of people who complain to you,” he insisted.

Saolta group CEO Maurice Power said there was no difficulty arranging a special meeting with senior management but it could prove tricky to get them all to come at the same time. It would likely happen next March.


Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues



Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!



Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison



A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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