Saolta University Healthcare Group has been accused of dishonesty after internal documents emerged confirming that no additional bed capacity will result from the development of a new €17.6-million ward block.
Surgeries were deferred and full-capacity protocol was invoked twice in the past week as University Hospital Galway (UHG) struggled to cope with ongoing overcrowding issues.
However, the Galway City Tribune recently revealed that three existing wards would be closed or demolished as part of the development, meaning that no net increase in bed capacity would result from the multimillion-euro investment.
The issue was raised at a meeting of the HSE Regional Health Forum last week by Councillor Padraig Conneely, but hospital management refused to be drawn on the matter and claimed the new building would help to address current capacity issues.
Cllr Conneely has described the response as “very dishonest” after a number of documents emerged confirming that the development of the new 75-bed block was only ever intended to replace existing hospital accommodation – not to increase it.
Furthermore, the documents reveal that planning permission granted in respect of the new building explicitly required that no additional bed spaces would be created by the development.
Formal assurances were provided to the planning authority by hospital management in this regard.
In a letter from Tony Canavan received by Galway City Council in February 2013, the then-Chief Operating Officer of the hospital group stated that the “ward block will provide replacement accommodation for existing older ward accommodation”.
“This is not additional accommodation/beds but replacement for older infrastructure within the hospital which has not been upgraded,” he confirmed.
For more on the hospital accommodation crisis, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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.