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Galway ambulance delays putting lives at risk

Dara Bradley

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Patients’ lives are being put at risk because ambulances are forced to park outside hospitals across the West for hours.

New figures obtained by the Connacht Tribune reveal that more than 500 ambulances a month are parked outside University Hospital Galway (UHG) for more than a half an hour – 95 of them were waiting over an hour. The official figures were released by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to Denis Naughten, Independent TD for the new Roscommon Galway constituency following a Parliamentary Question.

The recommended time is no more than a 20 minutes wait in hospital car parks.

Deputy Naughten said the figures are shocking and reveal how in total ambulances spent 532 hours parked outside the Emergency Department of UHG in the month of April, the latest month for which data was made available.

The figures show that 20% of all ambulances that arrive at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe are waiting for over one hour in the car park.

“It is a deplorable situation and I have no doubt that lives are at risk,” said Deputy Naughten.

“It is clear that the overcrowding caused by the closure of Roscommon A&E is putting huge pressure on Portiuncula, with one in every five ambulances forced to wait more than an hour to discharge their patient into the care of hospital staff.”

These delays or “turnaround times” are a measure of how long it takes an ambulance to clear a hospital after its arrival with a patient. It includes patient handover to clinical personnel within the hospital and the time taken to clean and replenish ambulances to be ready for the next call.

Turnaround delays have a direct impact on overall response times, as ambulances are held back from taking on their next 999 call, said Deputy Naughten.

He said the reason for the delays is twofold: The Emergency Department’s are overcrowded and have no beds or trolleys to accommodate the ambulance patients; or staff in the Emergency Department are too busy tied-up with more serious cases and so ambulance staff can’t ‘sign over’ their patients.

He said at one point last November, every ambulance that was stationed at Roscommon, Loughrea, and Ballinasloe was parked up outside UHG, with repercussions for ambulance response times across the West.

Deputy Naughten said: “This disclosure is nothing short of deplorable as it means that these ambulances are not available to respond to the next 999 call which in some instances could by hours away from the nearest emergency department.

“The figures clearly highlight the need to properly resource the emergency departments in Portiuncula and University Hospital Galway in order to meet the demands which are being placed upon them.

“However, it also again highlights the lack of capacity within the ambulance service, and the need to provide additional ambulances and crews to operate the new ambulance stations at Tuam and Loughglynn, in West Roscommon. Is it any wonder that the National Ambulance Service is failing to meet the HIQA target of having an ambulance at the scene of a life threatening emergency within 18 minutes?

“These figures are just another example of where the emergency services are failing the public who rely upon them due to inadequate resourcing, which effectively means that we have death by geography, for those who are forced to rely on the ambulance service to get to hospital.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
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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