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CITY TRIBUNE

Saolta slammed for ‘failing to keep eye’ on consultants

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A Galway City councillor has accused public hospital management of still failing to monitor consultants to ensure they did their contracted public work even though a media investigation revealed one local medic worked nearly one third less than he was obliged to.

At this week’s Regional Health Forum West meeting, Fine Gael’s Padraig Conneely demanded to know what sanctions had been imposed on the consultant who had worked 13 hours on average a week even though he was paid to work 37 hours under his contract.

The RTÉ Prime Time investigation which examined the work of 36 consultants at Galway University Hospitals and found that 80% were engaging in private work which exceeded what was allowed under their contracts.

Most consultants are supposed to adhere to an 80% public patient and 20% private patient breakdown. The investigation found that 15 consultants in Galway worked just a day-and-a-half per week in the public system.

“Have you spoken to that consultant? Have you spoken to other consultants. He’s not the only one. Can I name the consultant? Everyone seems to know his name. You say the management of compliance is a continuing process but who is managing compliance? The compliance is simply not there. Have you got the money back?”

Saolta Hospital Group CEO Maurice Power told the meeting said the vast majority of consultants – 98% – are compliant with their public/private ratios as stipulated under their contracts.

He stated that consultants are continually monitored and he sees the statistics across his desk on a monthly basis.

“87% of activity across the group is public work,” he stated.

Cllr Conneely said this did not reflect the reality on the ground. The consultant found to have worked just 13 hours a week had been observed for eight weeks.

So instead of working eight weeks, the consultant worked the equivalent of three weeks and based on HSE salary scales, he was paid more than €14,000 for work he did not do.

The 2008 Hospital Consultants’ Contract provided significant pay increases in return for consultants agreeing to limit their private practice. Under the deal, most consultants are contracted to work between 37 and 39 hours per week in the public system.

Galway’s two city hospital has 234 consultants; just 6% are totally dedicated to public patients. A further 27% are ‘Type B’ – consultants who can have private practice but in a public hospital only.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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