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Minister blames over 75s for A&E overcrowding



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.


Swimmer James clocks up one million metres in year



From the Galway City Tribune – A keen swimmer in Galway has clocked up an astonishing one million metres in a year as part of his gruelling exercise schedule.

James Brennan reached the impressive milestone over 400 swims last years,  which were split between the sea in Salthill and across the road early-morning sessions at Leisureland pool.

He would count the lengths in his head or on his watch, regularly swimming up to 240 lengths over 90 minutes in the pool and up to 2km off the beach for a half-hour. On a regular week he would swim the equivalent of 20km.

When James realised he was at 800,000 metres last November, he decided to go all-out to pass the one-million mark by the end of 2022.

So he concentrated on swimming for at least ten hours a week leading up to Christmas and celebrated passing his goal before breaking up for the festivities.

“I’ve always done a lot of swimming. I’ve competed for my local swimming club in Claremorris, County Mayo, and was involved in the Corrib Polo Water Club races. I won the Heskin League, which is a combination of the 14 different open water races in Salthill. I also won the league in Claremorris,” he reveals.

The software engineer has been living in Galway for  13 years and has been a member of Leisureland for four years.

“It’s a really great pool, it has nice facilities, the staff are all very nice,” he reflects.

Facilities Manager of the Council-owned premises, Ian Brennan, said the phenomenal distance was the equivalent of swimming from Galway to Amsterdam.

He heard about James’s achievement from Green Party Councillor and Leisureland board member Niall Murphy, who happened to be swimming in the lane beside James when the Mayo man reached the goal.

“I felt that this is a hugely worthy event and fills me with amazement that we have a superhero in our midst. The future is bright.”

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Ó Tuathail not interested in Galway City Council co-option



From the Galway City Tribune – A two-time general election candidate for the Social Democrats in Galway West has ruled out filling the party’s vacant seat on Galway City Council.

Niall Ó Tuathail, a health reform advisor, has confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that he will not be co-opted to the City Council seat vacated by the shock resignation of Councillor Owen Hanley in January.

“I’m not going to be put forward for co-option,” said Mr Ó Tuathail.

The father-of-two has lived abroad for a time since taking a step back from electoral politics in the wake of his 2020 General Election defeat.

He confirmed this week he has not reconsidered his decision to take a long break from frontline politics.

“I’m still a Soc Dem member and we’re in a process looking for someone strong to represent the values of the people who voted for us in 2019,” Mr Ó Tuathail said.

He polled 3,653 first preference votes in 2020 in Galway West and was only eliminated after the 12th count in the five-seat constituency.

That was an increase on the 3,455 number ones he received in his first Dáil election in 2016, when he also bowed out on the 12th count.

Mr Ó Tuathail was synonymous with the Social Democrats’ brand in Galway, and was heavily involved with the local referenda campaigns for marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

It surprised many political observers when he opted not to fight a local election for the party in 2019.

That was a breakthrough election for the Soc Dems, when Owen Hanley became the party’s first ever Galway City councillor by winning a seat in Galway City East. Sharon Nolan narrowly missed out on a seat in City Central during the same election.

Mr Hanley cited allegations made against him when he announced in January that he was resigning his position.

He said that the matters were “very serious” and would take a considerable amount of time for the authorities to investigate.

The resignation of Mr Hanley left a vacancy on the City Council.

It is the prerogative of the Social Democrats to nominate a person who will be co-opted to replace him as a councillor at City Hall.

A spokesperson for the party told the Tribune last week that it has not yet chosen a successor.

“We don’t have any update in relation to the co-option. I will let you know when we have a candidate,” the spokesperson said.

One problem faced by the party is that a number of possible replacements for Mr Hanley have left the Soc Dems over policy and other issues.

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Cigarettes, drugs and cash seized in Galway



Officers from the Divisional Drugs Unit seized more than €73,000 worth of cigarettes, cash and drugs after a car and residence were searched in Galway today.
As part of Operation Tara – which is targeting the sale and supply of drugs and related criminal activity in the Galway area – Gardaí  searched a car in the Knocknacarra area. Cash and cannabis were seized.

A follow up search was carried out at a residence in Salthill, where cigarettes worth €70,000, along with €3,100 in cash and a small quantity of suspected amphetamine were recovered.

No arrests were made, but Gardaí say they are following a definite line of inquiry.

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