Fears have been expressed of a ‘downgrading by default’ at Portiuncula Hospital, after the HSE failed to fill a consultant’s post after a vacancy of more than a year-and-a-half.
Independent Deputy Denis Naughten told said a decision in recent months by a consultant geriatrician not to take up the post “does not augur well” for the Ballinasloe Hospital.
And he told the Connacht Tribune that the possible downgrading of the Emergency Department at the hospital is still very much on the cards, despite denials from the Department of Health.
There have been no stroke services at the hospital since March 2013 following the resignation of a consultant geriatrician – patients now have to travel at least 40 minutes by ambulance to University Hospital Galway for life-saving treatment.
“The fact that a consultant has not taken up the post in Portiuncula does not augur well for that post and other posts in the future.
“It has been vacant since March 2013, I understand the post has not been filled despite an interview process earlier this year, and it will probably be another 12 to 18 months before they can fill it.
“That will be three years with a lack of a vital service in the Ballinasloe catchment area. The Emergency Department is already effectively downgraded because the hospital cannot treat stroke patients.
“While the proposed downgrade of the ED [contained in a leaked document from the Department of Health to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform] was not implemented as part of Budget 2015, it is copper-fastened in that document and can be looked at again if the Department believes the financial circumstances merit it.
“For more than 18 months, if a person has a stroke, they have to be brought to Galway. Every minute counts – two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke,” said Deputy Naughten.
He called on the HSE to immediately install a Telemedicine stroke machine in Portiuncula, which would allow diagnoses to be made by consultants at other hospitals.
“Seven of these machines are lying idle in cardboard boxes in Cork. This is the third biggest cause of death and disability in the world we’re talking about.
“If one of these machines was in Portiuncula, we could treat all stroke patients on a 24/7 basis. Give a laptop to the consultant geriatricians in Roscommon, Sligo and Letterkenny, and they can make a diagnosis from home,” said Deputy Naughten.
Read more in this week’s Connacht Tribune
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.
Woman sustains serious injuries after being struck by firework in Eyre Square
Gardaí are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was struck in the face by a firework in Eyre Square in the city overnight.
It happened shortly after midnight and gardai say it’s understood the firework had been launched from close to the Tourist Information Kiosk.
The young woman suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised as a result.
Gardaí understand there was a large group of people in Eyre Square at the time and are now asking that any person who may have witnessed the incident make contact with the investigating team.
In particular Gardaí are appealing to anyone who may have video footage of the incident, either on mobile phone, CCTV or dash-cam to make contact with them.
This incident comes just days after a policing committee meeting was told of increasing concern about anti social behaviour around Eyre Square.
Garda chief suggests closing Eyre Square to curb anti-social behaviour
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Closing Eyre Square at night-time was among the radical suggestions put forward by Galway’s top Garda this week – in response to claims that the city centre’s famous landmark had become a ‘no-go area’ after dark.
It comes as Gardaí confirmed that since January they issued almost 500 fines for breaches of the city’s alcohol bylaws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.
Responding to claims that people were afraid to visit parts of the city centre at night due to anti-social behaviour, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the authorities might have to look at closing Eyre Square at certain times.
Chief Supt Curley also said that improved lighting and better CCTV were other tools that could be used to deter anti-social behaviour and to detect crime in the city centre.
“I’d need another five officers in there – and I haven’t got them,” said Chief Supt Curley of the requirement for more Gardaí on patrol in Eyre Square.
He was responding to a charge by former mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy, who said Eyre Square was dangerous at night. “It’s a no-go area,” he said at a City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting this week.
Cllr Fahy said that the illegal activity and anti-social behaviour in the city centre was a product of the Covid-19 pandemic and people socialising outdoors. Eyre Square was safe pre-Covid, he said.
In a written reply to the JPC, Chief Supt Curley said that anti-social behaviour issues had been ‘de-escalated’ along the city’s canals, Woodquay and Spanish Arch ‘as a result of extra Garda patrols’.
“The resulting consequences have led to crowd movement from these areas (and they) are now congregating at Eyre Square. Garda attention is concentrated on Eyre Square, however the return of students and the continued restrictions has led to increased numbers,” he said.
(Photo: a scene from Eyre Square at night this week taken from a video circulated on social media)
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.