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Deferred strike causes surgery cancellations



Some 17 surgeries were postponed at Galway city’s main public hospital on Tuesday, despite nurses’ deferring planned strike action at the West’s largest Emergency Department.

Management at University Hospital Galway (UHG) confirmed that the “non urgent elective” surgeries postponed due to the threat of strike action by ED nurses will be rescheduled.

“There were seven inpatient admissions and ten day case admissions cancelled,” confirmed Saolta University Healthcare Group, which is responsible for UHG.

“All patients affected will be contacted directly by the hospital. A new date will be re-scheduled as soon as possible.”

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced Monday night that it was deferring strike action at UHG and six other EDs nationwide. It said two planned strike days in January (Tuesdays 12 and 26) remain in place.

Nurses will vote on a deal brokered between INMO and the Health Service Executive (HSE) over the next fortnight following a proposal that emerged at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The new measures under the package include, “tightening and earlier activation of the national ‘escalation’ policy” to minimise overcrowding and waits on trolleys and to avoid extra beds and trolleys on inpatient wards.

The package includes measures to assist with recruitment and retention of nurses in EDs, including minimum staff levels, and an educational bursary for new entrants, worth €1,500 and payable after 12 months in employment. It also includes measures to improve health and safety of EDs.

UHG repeated its view that its Emergency Department is “not fit for purpose” and the need to replace it is “urgent”.  It said 30 extra inpatient beds, close to ED, will be in place “shortly”.  “These beds will provide much needed additional patient accommodation. Work is also continuing on the construction of a new 75-bed ward block to provide single room in-patient accommodation and this is expected to be completed in 18 months,” it said.

UHG said the ED continues to be “extremely busy” with a “sustained increase in the emergency admission rate throughout the year”.

Prior to the deferral of strike action, nurses at UHG’s ED said their protest was against “years of inhumane, undignified and immoral conditions that we, as professionals, and the patients we are accountable to, have endured.”

The nurses said their “ability to maintain safe standards of care, in the face of horrendous overcrowding, is being compromised, due to inadequate staffing and a building that has been described by so many as being ‘unfit for purpose’.”

In a letter, the nurses said: “Our patients deserve safe standards of care. They deserve clean, well-staffed, timely professional nursing care when they attend our ED. Patients, and their families, have witnessed first-hand the mayhem, congestion, abuse and intolerable conditions that nurses and patients have had to endure in the ED setting. What a sad indictment of a health service that purports to put the patient first!”

The letter was signed by Siobhan McGrath, Sinead O’Neill, Pamela Bartley, Marina O’Flanagan and Ann Marie Considine on behalf of all INMO ED staff at UHG.

Fianna Fáil County Councillor and election candidate in Galway West, Mary Hoade, fears the city hospital will creak under further pressures of winter.

“I am extremely worried about what will happen over the next few months, when winter takes hold and traditionally we see more people admitted to hospital. The ED at UHG is already seriously over capacity and I have grave concerns that it will reach breaking point when more people begin arriving into the Department in January and February,” said Cllr Hoade.

Sinn Féin election candidate in Galway East, Annemarie Roche, criticised the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar and said 30 new beds was not enough to solve the ED crisis.

Social Democrats candidate in Galway West, Niall Ó Tuathail, who has worked in the NHS in England, said the easiest way to alleviate pressure on the ED is to reduce the amount of people who need to go there. This could be achieved through an expansion of primary care, a phone triage service, and opening out-of-hours minor injuries units, he said.

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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