The Saolta University Health Care Group could be in breach of planning permission if they provide extra hospital beds in older wards at University Hospital Galway once the new 75-bed ward block is completed.
The possible breach was pointed out to the hospital management at this week’s meeting of the HSE West Regional Forum by Councillor Pádraig Conneely, who said he was unhappy with the “spin” that was being put on the story about new beds.
He said management had learned nothing from the past and that the culture of secrecy and denial continued.
Cllr Conneely had asked for confirmation that the new ward block at UHG contained only replacement beds and despite €18million being spent on the development, would not open one extra bed for the overcrowded hospital.
Cllr Conneely stressed that he welcomed the new development, but took exception to the impression given by hospital management that between 25 to 30 extra beds would be provided.
Referring to a senior planner’s report from Galway City Council, he said that a planning condition required Saolta to provide one car parking space per bed and that this would not be the case if more beds were opened.
Cllr Conneely said he was perplexed as to how the hospital could provide new beds without adhering to the planning condition.
“I was being deliberately misled. This new block is not ‘substantially replacement beds’ as you are now saying one of the older wards due to be closed may be used for essential maintenance, storage and services.”
But Tony Canavan, Chief Officer and Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operating Officer both insisted that they were being upfront and honest.
Ms Cosgrove said there was nothing in the planning conditions which stipulated how the old wards were to be used by the hospital and that to meet over capacity, they may use one of the wards to provide extra beds if required.
Cllr Conneely and Cllr Tim Broderick both pointed out that if that were the case, the hospital was not in compliance with planning conditions.
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
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.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
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.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
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.