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Health service lurching from crisis to crisis

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Galway’s public health service continues to lurch from crisis to crisis with a surge in people waiting on trolleys the latest scandal to hit local hospitals.

New nurses figures reveal that there has been a 59% surge in the numbers of patients forced to languish on trolleys at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

The Trolley Watch figures for June come in the same month it was revealed that over 1,000 cancer patients had their outpatient appointments postponed since January at UHG because of staff shortages which led to reductions in oncology clinics.

The trolley figures also come as further 850 rheumatology outpatient appointments were postponed for several months due to staff shortages, which has led to summer clinic closures.

The INMO figures show there were a total of 670 patients on trolleys in the Emergency Department of UHG last month, the highest number for June since the union began compiling the figures in 2006.

It represents a 59% increase on the 422 who were on trolleys in ED and wards in June 2014.

In May of this year there were some 524 patients on trolleys, up by a quarter compared with the same month in 2014.

There were 67 patients on trolleys in Portiuncula in June, an increase of 12% compared with the same month in 2014.

May was even busier in the Ballinasloe ED – there were 101 patients on trolleys in May, compared with 23 in 2014, representing a 340% rise.

Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Colm Keaveney said the figures are alarming. He said the situation has deteriorated at UHG over three years and is now “almost beyond repair”.

Deputy Keaveney added: “Every month hundreds of people are being treated in crowded emergency rooms and packed wards as the Health Minister sits back without intervening. This is causing much stress and anxiety not only for the patients themselves, who are being deprived of dignity in these exposed areas, but also for the frontline staff charged with their care.

“Over the past three years, the number of people on trolleys in UHG has jumped from 181 in 2013, to 422 in 2014 and stood at 670 last month. This is completely unacceptable.  Services in Galway have not been sufficiently expanded to deal with the increased demand. Units outside of UHG have been shut and have not been replaced, leading to a greater demand on the existing services.

“The status quo cannot be allowed to continue. Patients are being compromised and urgent action is needed. The entire health system is creaking under the strain and Emergency Departments are bearing the brunt of the burden. Additional funding and resources across the health service must be allocated to ease the pressure. Minister Varadkar needs to stop commentating and take immediate action to resolve this crisis.”

Liam Doran, INMO general secretary, said the overcrowding situation is so bad in the country’s Emergency Departments that his members are, “embarrassed to have to face patients and their families who have to suffer this indignity in our health care system”.

Mr Doran said: “Every day is the same inside Emergency Departments where elderly people on trolleys are lined up, head to toe, along small narrow corridors with insufficient nurses to care for them.”

The INMO called for more nurses to be employed and weekend discharges.  The figures were released in the same week Minister Varadkar visits Galway.

The Minister will be in UHG on Friday, and Government backbencher, Labour Party TD, Derek Nolan, says a new, bigger Emergency Department is vital to solving the problem.

Deputy Nolan said: “The Minister has stated to me in the Dáil that the current building is not fit for purpose and a new building has to be the medium to long term solution. I am looking forward to his visit so that he can finally see the reality of the situation.

“Getting a new ED is a priority for me and, more importantly, a priority for the people of Galway. A good standard of healthcare is the fundamental basis of any society and investing in infrastructure is a key component of that.”

CITY TRIBUNE

GAA club’s tournament honours stalwart who died at just 28

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Pictured at the launch of the Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament which takes place in Mervue this Saturday. Back: Kevin Curran, Kevin Barrett, Robert Fitzgerald, Aidan Brady, Alan O'Donnell, Donal Murphy, Eanna O'Connell, Eoghan Frain, David Henry. Front: Aodhain Ó Conghaile, Liam O'Donnell, Rory Murphy, Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Barrett.

The untimely passing of a city GAA stalwart six years ago is still deeply felt by the club he represented but he remains an inspiration to young up-and-coming footballers who will be displaying their skills this weekend.

The Darragh Frain Memorial Tournament for under-age teams will take place in St James’ GAA grounds at Mervue tomorrow, Saturday, when many memories of a great young clubman will be exchanged.

Darragh, from Lurgan Park in Renmore, was just 28 years of age when he lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Since then his beloved club has been organising a tournament for young footballers that’s proving immensely popular.

For tomorrow’s event, the St James club will entertain local teams including St Michael’s, Salthill-Knocknacarra, Killanin and an Cheathrú Rua, as well as Kiltane (Bangor Erris) and Elphin-Ballinameen from North Roscommon.

It is a nine-a-side tournament, which takes place from 11am to 5pm, and will involve Under-11 teams who will compete against each other during the day.

The fact that Darragh’s late father, Tom Frain Senior, hailed from Roscommon means that GAA support for the event is coming from both counties – this makes it extra special, as well as adding to the profile of the tournament.

Best friend and one of the event’s main organisers, another St James stalwart David Henry explained that this was the sixth year of the tournament and that Darragh would be very pleased that his name was being associated with the development of under-age football.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Too many cafés’ as city retail continues to decline

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Barber Tom Nally outside his premises.

The changing face of Galway city centre is a source of concern to those who say it reflects a decline for people in terms of retail choices.

Those who regret the loss of several long-standing family-run operations in the city in recent years don’t believe that what has replaced them has enhanced the appearance of Shop Street, in particular.

“We are looking at a proliferation of coffee shops, bookies and mobile phone outlets in their place,” observed long-standing city centre businessman Tom Nally.

Cllr Niall McNelis agreed there were far too many coffee shops in the city centre and believed that anything that has been zoned retail by the Council should remain retail.

The Labour Councillor said a proper retail strategy needed to be adopted and some of the ‘big-name brands’ needed to be encouraged into the centre of Galway to lure shoppers into town.

Meanwhile, popular barber Tom Nally regretted the number of family operations that have ceased trading in the recent past.

“It is sad to see the long-established family businesses in the city centre going and it would be great to say that what is replacing them will enhance our streets . . . but unfortunately this is not the case,” he added.

Mr Nally who has been operating out of his High Street premises for almost 50 years, said the number of unoccupied premises in an around the city centre was a new phenomenon.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

State cracks down on quick-buck landlords

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New measures to clamp down on illegal short-term lets in the city will kick in next month, in an attempt to tackle mounting pressure on the rental market.

From September 1, sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com will no longer be allowed to advertise short-term rentals if the correct planning permission is not in place.

The measure seeks to strengthen laws introduced in 2019 which state that the use of a property for short-term letting for longer than 90 days in a rent-pressure zone requires permission from the local authority.

City Councillor Niall Murphy (Green) said the move follows on from an objection he lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI).

“The ASAI said it couldn’t be expected to police these ads so the websites like Airbnb were off the hook. But after September, they will have to ensure that those advertising on their sites have planning permission,” he said.

The proliferation of short-term lets in the city has been a contentious issue for a number of years, with scores of holiday leases available at the same time as city residents are battling it out for an extremely limited number of rental properties.

This week, almost 400 short-term lets were available on the leading website, Airbnb, while just 19 homes were up for rent on Daft.ie.

Get the full story in this week’s Galway City Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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