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Hospital group accused of over reacting to media leak

Denise McNamara

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Senior management of the Saolta Hospital Group has been accused of being heavy-handed with a whistleblower who revealed that no new patient beds would be opened with the creation of a new 75-bed ward.

The row over spending €18m to build a new block without alleviating overcrowding at University Hospital Galway has carried on for months, becoming an election issue, with Saolta allegedly fudging the issue on whether the 75 beds would be replacement or new beds for patients.

Councillor Pádraig Conneely has raised the issue several times in HSE West Regional Forum. In March he was told by chief operating office of the Saolta hospital group, Ann Cosgrove, that once the ward was built there would be one additional ward for escalation beds to deal with activity.

Staff had to make decisions about what wards to transfer to the new unit and while she could not confirm how many new beds would be opened, a ward held between 25 and 32 beds, depending on which ones were moved.

“When the block is developed we will have extra capacity and we won’t have patients waiting for significantly long periods on trolleys,” she told the meeting.

However, it has since emerged in the planning file for the development that hospital authorities insisted that the ward was to replace beds in other wards and no new beds would be created, which meant they were not obliged to create new car parking spaces.

At last month’s Forum meeting, Cllr Conneely rounded on officials, accusing them of being heavy-handed in their treatment of a volunteer member of the patient council who resigned after being accused of breaching a confidentiality clause.

Cllr Conneely said this person had revealed definitively that no beds would result from the massive investment.

Ms Cosgrove replied the person had resigned of his own accord after it was pointed out to him that he had leaked information about the project.

Cllr Conneely said that the information shared was received from a HSE staff member and had not arisen out of any discussion of the patient council.

“The man was only highlighting something he felt should be known publicly, he wasn’t doing it for self-gain or for financial reasons. I hope more people come forward with similar information,” added Cllr Conneely.

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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