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New low as patients have to pay for bed pans



Date Published: 05-Nov-2009

Elderly and disabled patients across County Galway are to be hit with bills for essential health aids and appliances which they require on a daily basis – which up to now had been discarded after they had been used.

Basic facilities like bed pans, commodes, toilet frames and walking aids – which had been issued free of charge in the past – will now have to be paid for as part of the HSE West’s crippling cutbacks.

The irony is that these are the same essential aids which, in the past, health authorities declined to accept back from patients who no longer needed them – from crutches that had outgrown their use for patients who had recovered from fractures up to wheelchairs being returned by the families of patients who were now deceased.

An internal memo has been circulated within the HSE in Galway outlining the costs for the various pieces of equipment which are essential for the elderly and disabled.

The charges – many of which are outlined in the memo – will be imposed on patients irrespective of them being on a medical card.

And in a worrying development, the charges will also apply to terminally ill patients as the HSE have been accused of being “callous”.

“They are scraping the bottom of the barrel,” remarked Deputy Paul Connaughton who says that the HSE are determined to hit the most vulnerable people in society.

Some of the medical aids mentioned in the memo are items which many elderly and disabled require on a daily basis. In the memo, which was circulated in the past week, it provided a detailed price list for some of the equipment that is commonly required by those with immobility problems.

For example, a bed pan will now cost patients €23, a commode is €35, a back rest is also €35, a charge of €64 will be applied for a toilet frame, a drip stand will be charged at €100 with a catheter stand setting patients back €20.

It is understood that crutches and walking aids which patients require when leaving hospital will also result in a charge being applied – regardless of whether they return them or not.

Deputy Connaughton said that the HSE had now reached “a new low” and by imposing charges for essential medical aids could not be tolerated. “The bottom line is that if a 90 years old woman required a commode in their home or something as basic as a bed pan, then they will have to cough up for the privilege. This is reprehensible”, he said.

According to the memo, these basic aids and appliances were no longer being purchased by the HSE and if patients require them, then they will have to pay for them.

The memorandum concluded by saying where existing equipment is no longer in use in patient homes, the stores department need to be advised for return of this equipment so that it can be recycled.

Deputy Connaughton said that the HSE’s “get tough” policy on the elderly and disabled had to be resisted and he will now be raising this matter in the Dail.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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