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Site identified for new Galway Hospice facility

The HSE has identified a suitable site that could become home to a new, larger Galway Hospice for palliative care, the Connacht Tribune has learned.

Tripartite talks have taken place between representatives of HSE Community Healthcare West, Galway Hospice and Galway Brothers of Charity about the possibility of a ‘co-location arrangement’ at the John Paul Centre in Ballybane in Galway City (pictured).

This facility, known as Woodgrove, is currently used as a centre for Brothers of Charity, which provides services to people with an intellectual disability and their families.

The talks come four years after Galway Hospice suffered a fatal planning application blow to its proposals for a new hospice facility at environmentally sensitive lands at Merlin Park.

A spokesperson for the HSE, in a statement to the Connacht Tribune this week, said: “HSE Community Healthcare West (CHW) can confirm that some initial discussions have taken place between the Galway Hospice, Galway Brothers of Charity and CHW to explore the possibility for a co-location arrangement with the Galway Hospice and the Brothers of Charity.”

It’s understood Minister for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, the Galway East Fianna Fáil TD, whose department is responsible for Brothers of Charity, is aware of the talks and is generally supportive of finding a solution that suits all three organisations for the betterment of healthcare in the West of Ireland.

It’s also understood the new Chief Officer of Community Healthcare West, John Fitzmaurice, was involved in the discussions.

Galway Hospice had high-hopes of building a new €20m, 36-bed facility on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital and was granted planning permission in 2018 by Galway City Council.

This was overturned on appeal, however, in 2019 by An Bord Pleanála which ruled that the development would be “inappropriate and contrary to policies to protect natural heritage”.

Environmental campaigners including An Taisce and Friends of Merlin Woods successfully highlighted the impact the development would have on plants, birds and animals, including the red squirrel, in Merlin Woods.

ABP ruled that the removal of a section of habitat to facilitate the hospice building would “materially contravene” the City Development Plan.

It ruled it would be “contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

Galway Hospice did not lodge a judicial review of that divisive decision, and instead turned its attention to finding a new site that was capable of becoming home to a new larger hospice.

The current Galway Hospice in Renmore accommodates 18 inpatients in ten single rooms and two four-bedded bays.

It is designed to care for patients and families who require admission for specialist palliative care.

Galway Hospice, a registered charity, also provides palliative care in the community, and day care for people suffering life-limiting illness.

Its board, after ABP rejected plans for a new facility, vowed to look at alternatives because its current facility was “no longer capable of meeting current and projected future demands”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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