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Health body urged not to ‘farm out’ MRI scans

Dara Bradley

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been urged to cease the tendering process that would result in a private company being awarded the contract to carry out MRI scans in the public hospital at Merlin Park.

West Regional Health Forum member, city councillor Catherine Connolly (Ind), says the tender process underway for an imaging service at Merlin Park should be “reviewed, with a view to having it stopped”.

Cllr Connolly says that there is “no need for private companies to profit on public property”. She says that the HSE should operate the MRI service itself, through the public health system and not by ‘farming it out’ to a private for profit company. She has raised this issue consistently since becoming a councillor.

Cllr Connolly said that in 2013, she was aware of a woman who was dying, and was waiting on the list for 10 days before getting an MRI scan.

The woman was on a ‘priority list’ along with some 30 other public patients – the list actually swelled to more than 40 waiting for priority scans.

In 2010, under the previous service level agreement between the public hospital and private firm that operated the imaging service at Merlin Park, public patients were not given scans between midnight and 8am, she said.

Cllr Connolly said that the previous agreement was “bad for patients”.

“It came about, in my opinion, because they were trying to run-down the public health service. They were deliberately running-down the public health service in favour of for-profit health and private hospitals. That’s why during the boom we had theatres closed, beds that were closed and wards closed, while all the time public money through the National Treatment Purchase Fund diverted to private hospitals,” she said.

She made the comments in response to a report the HSE gave Cllr Connolly on foot of a series of questions in relation to the nature of contracts between the HSE and private MRI scans firm.

Cllr Connolly said that the report didn’t give any of the detail that she had asked.

“It begs the question, what else are they not telling us and what other agreements like this, that are bad for the public health system, are in place that they aren’t telling us?” she asked.

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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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.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash

Enda Cunningham

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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.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Salthill Garda Station (091) 514 720 the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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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.

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