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Private hospitals paid €1m to take patients from HSE waiting lists

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Galway University Hospitals paid more than €1 million to private hospitals for the treatment of public patients last year as it struggled to cope with waiting lists and overcrowding.

A total of 2,723 patients were taken from waiting lists at GUH (University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park) and sent to three private hospitals for treatment and procedures at the taxpayer’s expense during 2015.

Figures show that 868 inpatients were referred from waiting lists at GUH to the Galway Clinic last year at a cost of €62,249; while 516 outpatients were sent to Kingsbridge Private Hospital in Sligo.

A further 1,339 outpatients were referred for treatment to Bon Secours Hospital in Renmore at a cost of €1,014,317; bringing the total spend on private care to €1,076,566 during 2015.

Fine Gael TD for Galway West, Hildegarde Naughton – who is campaigning for the development of a new hospital at Merlin Park – said the figures were further evidence that UHG can no longer deal with current levels of demand.

“It has been established that bed capacity at UHG cannot be increased due to spatial and planning reasons, and it is clear that the hospital cannot provide for the needs of our existing population.

“The longer it takes for us to come to the realisation that the development of a new facility at an alternative site is necessary, the longer waiting lists will grow and the more money will be squandered on stop-gap measures and piecemeal solutions,” she said.

Deputy Naughton has previously criticised the recent €18 million spend on a new ward block at UHG, which will not result in any additional beds.

Due to congestion on the site, a shortage of parking spaces, and planning restrictions contained in the City Development Plan, bed capacity cannot be increased.

“This problem is already costing us millions. These figures show that more than €1 million was paid to the private sector last year because of inadequacies with our public facilities.

“That money would have gone a long way towards improving and expanding our own facilities so that public patients could be cared for within the public system – but we cannot expand facilities on the existing site,” she said.

Connacht Tribune

Two arrested following taxi hijacking in Galway

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Gardaí have arrested two men following the hijacking of a taxi in Co Galway last night.

Shortly before midnight, Gardaí received a report that two men who were passengers in a taxi had attacked the driver and stole his vehicle.

The driver was ejected from the car on the M18 motorway.

Gardaí were alerted and observed the car in Claregalway.

A managed containment operation to ‘block in’ the taxi was put in place with assistance from the armed Regional Support Unit.

The car was brought to a stop on Bothar na dTreabh and two men fled on foot. The two men, one in his mid-20s and the other in his early-30s, were subsequently arrested.

They are currently detained at Garda HQ in Renmore under the provisions of Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Small shops fight back in store wars

Dara Bradley

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Caroline McCarthy

A popular city boutique has threatened to re-open in breach of Covid-19 restrictions – to highlight the unfairness of supermarkets selling so-called ‘non-essential’ goods.

The proprietor of Lanidor on Eyre Street said she is ‘taking a stand’, and has urged all retailers to follow suit, unless the authorities crack-down on those bending the rules.

“This stuff about ‘oh we’re all in it together’ is a load of rubbish,” fumed Caroline McCarthy, who said the multiples were ignoring restrictions while independent retailers remain shuttered.

She said all non-essential retail should be open, or none, but the current situation was “discriminatory”.

“I’ve had it at this stage. I’ve lost it. I can’t put up with this anymore. On a point of principle and on a practical level, someone has to do something about it. It’s not that we want to open.

“We have adhered to every single one of the regulations. But we are making a stand now. We will go ahead and open, at a date to be announced, if they are not shut down. And we would call on retailers across the country to do the same,” she said.

Under public health guidelines only ‘essential’ retail outlets are permitted to open. They are not permitted to sell ‘non-essential’ goods during Level 5. This is to stop people congregating and browsing in order to limit the spread of the virus.

But large retailers such as Dunnes Stores and Marks and Spencer stand accused of selling ‘non-essential’ clothing during the pandemic, even though clothes shops should be closed.

Galway Gardaí visited stores last weekend on foot of a complaint.

A spokesperson for M&S said it was following the guidelines but the tills in its Galway store’s clothing section was staffed on Saturday.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Vaccine roll-out stalls after advice

Dara Bradley

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Staff from the Paediatric Department at UHG (from left) Mary Scally, Clinical Nurse Manager 1; Cecily Cassidy, Clinical Nurse Manager 2; and Lisa Porter, Play Specialist with shadowbox theatres and accompanying tote bags which are being shared with children in hospital during April as part of an Arts and Health project for Galway 2020 called A Bird at My Window and Other Stories.

The roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine programme in Galway has stalled due to updated advice on the AstraZeneca jab.

Operations at the mass vaccination centre at Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit were  suspended Tuesday, for the remainder of this week at least, to allow the HSE to ‘reconfigure’ its roll-out plan following the new guidance.

The European Medical Agency safety committee concluded that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of AstraZeneca.

National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) then issued revised recommendations for its use, including not administering it to people under 60.

For people who have already received their first dose, NIAC said people aged 60 and older should continue to receive their second dose, as should those under 60 with underlying conditions.

Those under 60 without underlying health conditions – mostly healthcare staff – should have an extended period between the first and second dose, “to allow for further assessment of the benefits and risks as more evidence becomes available”.

Anyone who develops unusual blood clots with low platelets after the first dose should not take the second.

HSE West said vaccination clinics for the over-60s proceeded as planned; it would not say how many people had their vaccination jabs cancelled at Ballybrit.

“Everyone scheduled to get their vaccine at Ballybrit vaccination centre this week has been contacted,” a spokesperson said.

“The HSE is actively looking at the implications of the updated NIAC recommendations for the vaccine roll-out and the implementation of the programme. On receipt of national guidance we will recommence scheduling of vaccines at the Ballybrit vaccination centre.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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