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Huge number of ‘no shows’ for Galway hospital appointments



Around 720 patients every week fail to turn up for medical appointments at Galway city’s two public hospitals, it has been revealed.

The startling figures show that there were 37,442 patient ‘no-shows’ for outpatient appointments at University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park Hospital in the past year.

The huge level of no-shows – representing 16% of the 260,801 outpatient appointments scheduled in 2013  – is contributing to lengthy waiting lists, according to the hospitals.

There are some 21,635 patients waiting on outpatients waiting lists, and they are on the lists for longer because other patients aren’t turning up for appointments, Galway University Hospital (GUH) has said. Patients who fail to turn up for appointments, and who do not tell the hospital in advance that they will not be attending, are also costing the health service financially.

Ann Cosgrove, General Manager, GUH, said a “priority” this year is to make inroads in reducing the outpatients’ waiting list.

“We have a significant problem with patients not showing up for appointments,” she said.

“We could have shortened our waiting list and reduced the waiting time for other patients had we been able to reallocate the appointments for the people who didn’t show up. We understand that patients may be given appointment dates or times that do not suit and we would ask patients to let us know if that is the case. If patients are unable to attend and take the time to notify us in advance it means that we can reschedule their appointment and also offer the original appointment time to another patient.”

The hospitals have introduced a new text reminder system which allows patients to confirm by text message whether or not they will attend their appointment. There are follow-up texts to check if they no longer need an appointment or if they need a new appointment date.

“Once we know that someone is unable to make their appointment, we are able to offer the appointment to the next person waiting on the list and this is helping to reduce the waiting list also,” said Ms Cosgrove.

The hospitals have sent text reminders to 15,186 patients since the new system was introduced, and 12,801 or 84% have responded. Patients who do not have mobile phones or whose text messages failed to deliver, were sent the traditional reminder letters.

“I would like to thank patients for responding to the texts as they are helping us to ensure that all appointment slots are filled. The new text system was initially introduced for a number of outpatient clinics such as Ear Nose and Throat, cardiology, paediatrics, rheumatology, urology, plastics, vascular and oncology and based on the success to date we will be extending it to other clinics in the coming weeks.”

Connacht Tribune

Nurses call in Chief Fire Officer on ED overcrowding



UHG's Emergency Department.

The nurses’ union has formally urged the Chief Fire Officer to investigate 17 alleged breaches of the fire regulations as a result of chronic overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Galway.

It’s the second time the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has done so since Christmas, fearing the lives of staff and patients are being put in grave danger.

The emergency department was busier than normal last week, with between 222 and 251 patients turning up to be seen per day. On Wednesday of last week there were 53 patients waiting on trolleys, according to figures released by the Saolta Hospital group. That went down to 47 on Thursday and Friday.

This week has seen little let up. On Monday and Tuesday the number of people who could only get a trolley was down to 36 and 38 respectively.

Local area representative of the INMO, Anne Burke, said as a result of very high attendances at the temporary emergency department, management had opened a transit area where between 12 and 14 people could be accommodated in cubicles.

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

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Connacht Tribune

Comer has eyes on the prize



Damien Comer undergoing an eye test at Specsavers; the Galway star is encouraging all to look after their eyesight and hearing.

If you Google Damien Comer, the first entry the search returns is a dedicated Wikipedia page, which declares: “He’s better than David Clifford”.

And while Wikipedia as a source of fact isn’t necessarily always reliable, who are we to argue with it?

But whatever about comparisons with Kerry greats, the Annaghdown clubman is certainly up there among Galway’s finest ever footballers.

Winning a first All-Star last season, from his third nomination, was proof of that. It was a special personal accolade, but he’d trade it in a shot for a Celtic Cross.

“It was nice to get but if I finish my career not having won an All-Ireland, I’ll be very disappointed,” he declared.

Comer hints that the 2022 All-Ireland final loss to Kerry last July was not one of his better games in maroon, and it’s one he thinks about regularly.

“Yeah, I would yeah, I’d think about it a bit. But I try to forget it as well, because it wasn’t a good day for me, personally, anyway.

“You try to forget about it and yet you have to try to learn from it and improve on the mistakes you made, and stuff you didn’t do that you should’ve done, and different things that you can bring to this season.

“It’s one that’s hard to forget about really because we were there for so long. Sixty minutes in, neck-and-neck, and then they just pulled away, so it was disappointing,” he said.

Damien Comer has teamed up with Specsavers to encourage people to take a more proactive approach to their eye and hearing health. There’s a full interview with him ahead of Sunday’s National Football League Final, is in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway publican reflects on traumatic journey that ended with his abuser in jail



Paul Grealish. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Galway businessman Paul Grealish remembers the moment back in 2000 when he was given a sheet of paper and asked to write about his life. He was on weekend-long self-development course that he’d been sent on by his brother John. At the time, John was managing director of their family business for which Paul and their sister, Joan, also worked.

“The course was probably done in an attempt to make it easier to manage me,” says Paul with a laugh, adding that he “was tough to manage” back then.

He was enjoying the course – until he received that blank sheet.

“I got about four or five sentences in, writing about my early life. Until I got to the primary school part . . . I was in tears,” he remembers. “I was so used to compartmentalising things, I didn’t see the danger.”

In the early 1970s, aged nine and ten years, Paul had been beaten and sexually abused by his teacher, Brother Thomas Caulfield, at Tuam CBS primary school.

He had repressed those memories for nearly three decades.

“You bury the memory, and you bury it as deep as you can. There’s an awareness of something terrible there but it’s too frightening for you to actively remember.”

Paul was so terrified of those memories that he’d lost all recollection of his childhood. He couldn’t tell his story.

He was meant to show it to one of the course leaders – a counsellor, he thinks. Instead, Paul put the nearly-blank sheet before the man and explained what had happened.

Realising Paul’s plight, that man gave him a list of phone numbers for counsellors in Galway.

“Every now and again, I’d look at it and think about ringing them but I didn’t,” Paul says.

However, the abuse that had robbed Paul of his childhood and blighted his adulthood with feelings of guilt and self-hatred refused to stay buried. Finally, he knew he had to deal with it. That journey began in the early 2000s and Paul finally got closure earlier this month when Caulfield was sentenced to 27 months in prison – with the final seven suspended – for his crime.

Read Paul’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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