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Rural patients’ bigger bill for cancer service

Dara Bradley

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Cancer sufferers in rural areas face intuitional discrimination when accessing the health service, it was claimed this week.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) stands accused of “actively discriminating” against certain sick people because of where they live.

Independent TD, Denis Naughten, said the HSE medical card unit favours urban patients over those who live in rural areas and the regions.

The HSE is supposed to consider the cost of accessing specialist medical care when patients travel from rural areas to hospitals in the cities.

But Deputy Naughten claims the HSE is not including travel costs as part of means assessments for patients who have ongoing medical conditions, including cancer, which require regular hospital visits.

The former Fine Gael politician cited instances where sick people are forced to fork out huge sums of money – without reimbursement – in order to get to hospital appointments.

“In one example, a person living in County Roscommon, who does not drive and does not have access to public transport, is attending ten medical appointments monthly spread between Galway and Ballinasloe. She received a health expense allowance which is €10 per week less than a patient living in Galway city, receiving all of their treatment in Galway University Hospital,” said Deputy Naughten.

“I know of an individual living in Galway city, who is being treated in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. They get an allowance of €11.54 per week for health expenses and €33.23 per week for prescribed medicines and appliances. I also know of another patient in Galway city who is being treated in Galway University Hospital with exactly the same allowances. How can the Minister justify that a woman living in my constituency, who has to travel to the four ends of the country to attend appointments, should receive the same allowance as someone in Galway city who is receiving care there? What about someone in Galway city who has to travel across the country to get treatment at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin? Where is the equality in that?”

Deputy Naughten said other patients are forced to pay out up to €200 for a taxi fare to access hospital appointments because of a lack of public transport in rural areas. “Yet the HSE is deliberately ignoring these costs.”

Deputy Naughten added: “This practice is happening right throughout the country, even though the HSE claim that the distance from medical treatment, such as cancer treatment, is taken into consideration, when assessing financial hardship for the medical card. In reality, the HSE is actively discriminating against those who are sick, and have to travel from provincial towns and rural Ireland to specialist centres for treatment. Is it not enough that people have lost their local health services and are forced to travel to access treatment, without denying them a medical card because of where they live?”

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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