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CITY TRIBUNE

Minister blames over 75s for A&E overcrowding

Enda Cunningham

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High demand for beds at University Hospital Galway – particularly from those aged over 75 – was the reason for significant overcrowding in the Emergency Department, according to the Minister for Health.

Minister Simon Harris said HSE figures showed there were 783 patients left waiting on trolleys at the ED in April – and increase of 22% from 643 in April 2018.

He was responding to a written Dáil question from Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who asked the reason for the “significant overcrowding in the ED at UHG during April”.

The Minister said that during the first quarter of this year, the number of patients attending the ED increase by more than 8% on the same period last year.

He said the HSE’s Winter Plan for 2019/20 (preparing for additional pressures associated with the winter period, such as increased presentations of older people, flu and vomiting bugs) will ‘learn lessons’ from last winter.

“The Winter Plan 2018/19, recognising the multiple factors across the health service that impact on Emergency Department performance, included a range of measures to support patients accessing services in the community and in hospitals.

“Planning for Winter 2019/20 has already commenced, with a review of performance over the Winter Period currently underway to ensure that the lessons learned from this year inform future plans.

“With regard to UHG, for the first quarter of 2019, in comparison to 2018, the number of patients attending the Emergency Department increased by 8.4% and the number of patients admitted decreased by 0.3%. The number of patients recorded on trolleys at 8am reduced by 7.9%.

“Unfortunately, the improved trolley performance did not continue into April and provisional data highlights that the number of patients waiting on trolleys in UHG increased from 643 in April 2018 to 783 in April 2019,” said the Minister.

He explained that data in relation to attendance and admissions for April is not available yet.

“However, the HSE has advised that hospitals are reporting very high levels of demand, high patient acuity and high bed occupancy, especially in the over 75-year-old cohort of patients.

“In addition, delayed discharges are above the expected activity threshold set out in the National Service Plan and Hospitals and Community Health Organisations are reporting constrained options for supported discharges, particularly in relation to home support and long-term care.

“Building upon the actions in the Winter Plan, and to meet the ongoing operational challenges, robust planning arrangements were put in place for the Easter and May bank holiday weekends by Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations, and efforts are continuing to build upon the improved performance achieved nationally and in UHG in the first three months of the year,” the Minister said in his written response.

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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