New UHG Emergency Dept won’t open until 2024

An architect's impression of the planned new Emergency Department at University Hospital Galway.

The new Emergency Department at University Hospital Galway is now unlikely to open before 2024 – at the earliest; that’s despite new figures which show a seven percent increase in patients attending in the last two months.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Mary Hoade told councillors at a Regional Health Forum meeting this week that nearly three-quarters of her time in the Regional Health Forum West had been focused on trying to secure a new Emergency Department (ED).

“What is holding up the design? I’m talking a process that’s going on for four years, not four months.”

Joe Hoare, Assistant National Director of Estates in the HSE, told the meeting that the first stage of the large would be project completed in the next few weeks. This involved an outline design, the scope of the scheme and the estimated cost. It examined whether an extension would have to be built to accommodate the emergency department while building was taking place and if it would need to be completed in phases.

The HSE had engaged with Galway City Council about bus transport corridors through the site and would meet with An Bord Pleanála officials to see if the project was a strategic infrastructure development which would see the planning application lodged with them rather than the local authority.

Mr Hoare said they planned to lodge the planning application by the end of the year, draw up detailed designs in 2010 and carry out enabling works on the congested site in 2021. Building work would take place in 2022 and 2023.

“It does take a lot of time. I appreciate everybody is frustrated,” he admitted.

Cllr Hoade said it would be 2024 at the earliest before any patient could hope to present themselves at a new ED.

General Manager of Galway University Hospitals, Chris Kane, said there had been very high numbers of patients arriving in the last two months. Emergency department presentations were up seven percent in the last two months compared to last year while admissions were up by six percent.  There had been a surge in cancer patients being admitted through the ED because UHG was a Regional Centre of Excellence.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) queried how many times the full capacity protocol had been implemented. Ms Kane replied that it was enacted on a regular basis as it was national policy to switch to the ‘code red’ when waiting times for patients to be treated surpassed nine hours.

It involved putting trolleys on wards, checking which patients could be released and looking at minimising delays in diagnostic tests.