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Private firm to take over running of the city’s main hospital



Date Published: 17-Oct-2011

By Dara Bradley

A private company is set to take over the running of University Hospital Galway (UHG), as part of an overhaul of hospital management throughout the HSE West region.


The Department of Health has already begun a tender process in which five private companies are competing to secure a contract for taking over the running of a number of acute hospitals in the western region, including UHG.


The Connacht Sentinel has learned that the successful business that will be responsible for the city hospital is expected to be announced within the next fortnight.


The reforms will introduce a new management structure that will report directly to the Department of Health through Special Delivery Units (SDUs), while existing hospital and HSE management will undergo a process of up-skilling as part of the plans.


The new structure is expected to be operational at UHG by next month.


The announcement follows discussions between Fine Gael Deputy Brian Walsh and Minister for Health James Reilly after the Galway West TD submitted proposals for reform of the management system at UHG earlier this year.


The finer details of how the new structure would operate have not yet been unveiled by Government. It is understood Dr David O’Keeffe, Clinical Director of UHG, will remain in his position, but he will have diminished responsibility as this new company takes over.


It is also understood the new management will still be answerable to the HSE West Regional Director of Operations John Hennessy, but it will also report directly to the Minister.


Deputy Walsh has hailed the move as “the most significant reform of the acute hospital sector in Ireland since the inception of the Health Service Executive”.


He said there has been a management deficiency at UHG and other HSE West hospitals and the appointment of a company that specialises in management will address the problem.


“Galway’s public hospitals have exceptional nursing staff, state-of-the-art facilities and some of the top clinical specialists in the world. But it is clear that there are deficiencies within the management structure of the HSE.


“Minister Reilly has acknowledged that excellent administrators and clinicians within the HSE – that were not trained as managers – were promoted to management in the past without ever being given the skills set to do their jobs. But these plans will bring people in from the outside to address those deficiencies. The managers will have management know-how and will beef-up the management team,” said Deputy Walsh.


Deputy Walsh said it is his understanding that this new private management company would supersede the appointment of the remaining two positions, signalling a change in tack on the Minister’s part.


A management source in UHG told the Sentinel there is confusion within the hospital about Minister Reilly’s plans for new management structures. “We’re in the dark; we don’t know what is going on or what is being planned,” he said.


Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

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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