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Never used €2.5m health unit may be demolished

Ciaran Tierney

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 A €2.5 million state-of-the-art ‘high dependency’ unit for acute mental health patients at University Hospital Galway (UHG) has been left idle since it was built six years ago, the Galway City Tribune can reveal.

It now looks as though the unit, which was completed in 2007, may never be used because of staffing issues, and could even be demolished to make way for a newer facility for cancer patients within the next two years.

The six bed facility, along with the existing Psychiatric Unit next door, has been earmarked for demolition when a brand new 50-bed unit opens on the site of an existing car park in the UHG grounds. Planning permission for the new facility was granted by Galway City Council in April.

“This high dependency unit, which was built to the highest possible specifications, has never been opened because of staffing issues,” said Noel Giblin of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association (PNA) yesterday. “It was never staffed, because the ban on public sector recruitment came in around the time it was completed.”

Mr Giblin said the new unit was ideally located to complement the existing Psychiatric Unit next door, but there were issues with retirements, sick leave, and staffing in 2007 which prevented it from becoming operational.

“It had total observation for patients with high dependency. You could stand anywhere in the nurses’ station and see every bedroom in the unit. It was specifically built for people who were too challenging for the normal psychiatric unit at the hospital. The idea of having the unit so close was that you could just walk someone down the hallway to this custom-built facility with a calm environment,” he said.

Members of the PNA were recently informed at a Strategy Development Meeting at the hospital that both the new and existing units would be demolished to make way for a new Radiation Oncology Centre which would link up with the main hospital building at UHG.

“When the new 50-bed facility is built, this unit will be knocked down,” said Mr Giblin. “The hospital management want to build the new Cancer Services Unit up to the same height as the main hospital building. There seems to be no planning across the region. Instead, the HSA seem to be going around throwing up buildings with no plan.”

 

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Full details of the Christmas Covid restrictions

Enda Cunningham

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The Taoiseach announced this evening that the country will move to Level 3 restrictions from next week, with shops, gyms, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and gastro-pubs set to reopen.

“It hasn’t been easy. Many individuals and businesses have made huge sacrifices. And many more are totally fed up with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it over the past nine months. I understand that feeling. Very often I share it,” Micheál Martin said in an address to the nation.

“This cannot and will not be the kind of Christmas we are used to but it will be a very special time where we all enjoy some respite,” he said, as he announced the planned move to “Level 3, with some modifications”.

The use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

From 1 December, under Level 3, as set out in the Plan for Living with Covid-19:

  • weddings with up to 25 guests are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • funerals with up to 25 mourners are permitted (same as current provisions)
  • no organised indoor events should take place, other than as provided below
  • gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors
  • non-contact training may take place outdoors in pods of 15
  • only individual training should take place indoors and no exercise or dance classes are permitted
  • no matches/events may take place except professional and elite sports, approved inter-county Gaelic games, horse-racing and approved equestrian events, all behind closed doors
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools may reopen for individual training only
  • nightclubs, discos and casinos should remain closed
  • hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs may open with services limited to residents only
  • non-essential retail and personal services may reopen
  • people should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person
  • public transport capacity is limited to 50%

From 1 December:

  • households should not mix with any other households outside those within their bubble
  • people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes

From 4 December:

  • restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) may reopen for indoor dining with additional restrictions, (including requirement for meals to be prepared on site, inside the premises). This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels
  • higher, further and adult education should remain primarily online

Adjustments for the Christmas Period

From 1 December:

  • places of worship to reopen for services with restrictive measures, subject to review in January
  • museums, galleries, and libraries to reopen
  • cinemas to reopen
  • wet pubs to remain closed except for takeaway/delivery

From 18 December to 6 January:

  • households can mix with up to two other households
  • travel outside your county to be permitted

From 7 January, the measures put in place prior to 18 December will apply, subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus.

The measures for cross-border travel will be the same as for travel between all other counties, that is, from 1 December, people should stay within their county apart from work, education and other essential purposes while from 18 December to 6 January, travel outside the county is permitted.

It has further been agreed that the use of face coverings is now recommended in crowded workplaces, places of worship and in busy or crowded outdoor spaces where there is significant congregation.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Proposals to change speed limits in Galway City are voted down

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Planned speed limit changes for Galway City are stuck in the slow lane after councillors rejected a proposal for new bylaws.

The bylaws would have introduced a 30km/h zone in the city centre and 19 other changes, including increased speed limits in areas such as Bóthar na dTreabh to 80km/h.

Management at City Hall have now been sent back to the drawing board to draft new speed limit bylaws after a majority of elected members voted against them – it could at least two years before new proposals are ready.

At a meeting this week, several councillors spoke out against plans to increase speed limits to 80km/h on approach roads into the city.

Many of them criticised the system of selecting roads for speed limit changes, lashed the public consultation process and decried the lack of input from councillors, despite speed limits being a reserved function of elected members.

Councillors were particularly peeved that the proposal had to be accepted in its entirety, without amendments, or rejected outright – they could not pick and choose individual changes.

Deputy Mayor Collette Connolly (Ind) led the charge against the bylaws, which she described as “idiotic”.

She lambasted the “incomprehensible decision” not to lower speed limits to 30km/h outside schools and she said it was “utter raiméis” (nonsense) that speeds can’t be lowered to 30km/h, if 85% of the traffic on that road travels at 50km/h.

Cllr Connolly said the bylaws were “flawed”, and cited the decision to leave Rahoon Road/Shantalla Road at 50km/h, despite a crèche and two schools on other roads like Lough Atalia remaining at 30km/h.

(Photo: A speed van on Bóthar na dTreabh on Thursday morning)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, including how each councillor voted and a map of the proposed changes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Corrib to be opened up as new tourism and leisure blueway

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The first steps are to be taken next year to explore the development of a ‘blueway’ tourism and leisure trail along the River Corrib, from Nimmo’s Pier and onto the lake itself.

This week, Galway City Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, confirmed to the Galway City Tribune, that monies had been set aside to begin exploratory work on what will be known as the Great Western Blueway.

A figure of €65,000 has been allocated in the City Council’s 2021 annual budget to commission an initial study of what’s involved in the setting up a blueway trail on the Corrib.

“The Corrib river and the lake are a most wonderful natural asset for the entire western region and I have no doubt that this project has fantastic potential in terms of enhancing the tourism pulling power of the city and its environs,” Mr McGrath told the Galway City Tribune this week.

Should the project come to fruition, it would be the fifth such waterway attraction to be developed in the island of Ireland.

Already there are Blueways on the Shannon, from Drumshanbo to Lanesboro; the Shannon-Erne project from Leitrim village to Belturbet (Cavan); the Royal Canal at Mullingar; and at Lough Derg from Portumna to Scariff in Clare.

According to Mr McGrath, the attractions developed along the Great Western Blueway would be environmentally friendly, featuring such attractions as kayaking, paddling, adjacent cycle trails as well as scenic walkways and visitor centres.
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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