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HSE tight-lipped on controversial doctor’s references



One of the top executives in the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the West would not clarify whether University Hospital Galway (UHG) failed to seek a reference from a junior doctor’s previous hospital where he was let go due to concerns over his medical skills.

At a Regional Health Forum West meeting, Councillor Padraig Conneely again raised the issue of Dr Omar Hassan, who was taken off on-call duty at Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise days after his appointment before he took up a position with UHG.

Cllr Conneely claimed at last month’s meeting that UHG had given a glowing reference to Dr Hassan and he went on to work in two other public hospitals and a number of private facilities between 2012 and 2014, despite “not knowing his ankle from his elbow”.

The native of Sudan was found guilty of 28 counts of poor professional performance and six counts of professional misconduct in late January. Sanctions have yet to be handed down. His medical registration had been suspended before the hearing.

Cllr Conneely asked about a report prepared by the HSE for Health Minister Leo Varadkar on how the medical recruitment procedures had led to the junior doctor being employed successively by the HSE.

The Irish Times claimed the report found that UHG did not seek a reference from Portlaoise for Dr Hassan, who instead provided three references unrelated to his employment in the midlands.

The organisation planned to work with recruitment managers to set up a standard policy regarding references and Garda vetting for all non-consultant hospital doctors, according to the document.

Cllr Conneely said at the last meeting the Chief Officer for Galway Mayo Roscommon community services within the Saolta Hospital Group, Tony Canavan, did not give information about references for the senior house office.

“You said you didn’t know. I can’t get answers here. I have to read about them in the newspaper. It says you got no references at all.”

Mr Canavan said the issue was outside the remit of the Forum.

The Fine Gael Councillor said he took it by that answer that the HSE had not sought references.

“Outside the remit? It’s in the national interest. You have a doctor working in a public hospital who didn’t know his ankle from his elbow.”

UHG consultant Odhran Murray told the medical council inquiry that Dr Hassan mistook an x-ray of an ankle for an image of an elbow during a training session with colleagues.

Mr Murray also recalled an instance where Dr Hassan recontaminated his hands by touching a non-sterile area while scrubbing up, at odds with basic medical procedures.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Aiden Devitt stated that two colleagues had checked whether Dr Hassan was actually a registered medical doctor because he was “so far off the scale” in terms of his competencies.

Mr Devitt told Dr Hassan who was defending himself: “If you pulled someone off the street they would make a better fist of it than you did.”

The inquiry heard that Dr Hassan kept attempting to insert a tube into a patient’s arm even when unable to find a vein.

Colleagues expressed concern that Hassan did not appear to be aware of the importance of ruling out non-accidental injuries in children, and had suggested that a young child was a “fake” patient.

He was described as being “aggressive” and “intimidating” with one mother, while he caused a burn injury to another patient during surgery.

Cllr Conneely said he would submit questions on the issue at the next meeting.


Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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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