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Connacht Tribune

Staff stand-off over safety fears at Galway psychiatric unit

Denise McNamara

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The acute psychiatric unit at University Hospital Galway (UHG) descended into chaos again over the weekend with nurses refusing to go on duty due to safety concerns caused by staff shortages.

The stand-off is similar to the one which led to industrial action last May. A deal brokered in June led to a commitment from the management about specific numbers being rostered on duty.

On Friday evening, the acute ward was short four staff to care for the 44 in-patients, four of them considered seriously ill and requiring one-on-one care.

Night staff refused to begin their shift claiming they feared for their safety.

It took three hours to locate three additional staff to plug the gap, explained Psychiatric Nurses Association spokesman Noel Giblin.

“There was a known requirement for staff on Tuesday morning and nothing was done. The problem as we see it is management went off duty on Friday evening not realising – or more worryingly not caring – that the unit was dangerously understaffed and only started looking for those staff at 8pm.”

The last empty bed was filled early that morning by an agitated patient escorted in by gardaí.

“That ward has the ability to be very volatile. Staff have to be very mindful on a Friday or Saturday night they are very likely to have guards escorting in patients and must have the full complement of staff. They’re not being listened to.”

Another mental health worker called in to assess the situation – who asked not to be named as he worked elsewhere in the HSE – said he understand it was the fourth such standoff.

“Does it need to take a staff member being killed or maimed before they listen? There are already two staff off on long-term sick leave due to injury caused by patients. You’ll see staff going off sick because they’re too afraid to come on duty which will compound the situation,” he told the Connacht Tribune.

An acute 50-bed unit is scheduled to be built late next year but planning permission has not yet been secured.

Since the closure of the acute 22-bed unit in Ballinasloe built at a cost of nearly €3m the acute unit in UHG has been at breaking point.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Student nurses face all the risk – for no reward

Dara Bradley

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Working on the children’s ward of a busy hospital during a global pandemic is no joke; less funny still when you’re not getting paid for your toil.

All the risk and none of the rewards of qualified staff – that’s the lot of Edel Moore, a student nurse who is currently on placement at University Hospital Galway.

Edel, and hundreds of student nurses like her on placement in UHG and Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, want more than a round of applause and platitudes from Government.

“None of us want a pat on the back for struggling. We’d just like to be recognised,” she said.

“The Government are full-time talking about front-line workers, and they want to give them a ‘clap hands’. Then you see Junior Ministers getting massive raises. For what? What have they done for us, the student nurses, that they’re getting a €16,000 wage increase?

“We’ve put ourselves through a four year degree but all I’m worth is a clap? Thanks! It’s ridiculous. They say that front-line workers deserve all the help they can get but it just seems that the ones who are able to give us the help we need are not going to give us the help that we deserve.”

Edel Moore is a mature student originally from Westmeath but living in Leitir Mealláin in Connemara with her husband and three children.

A third year student nurse of NUIG, she is currently on placement at the paediatric ward at UHG.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Island museum gets the green light

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the proposed Inishbofin museum.

Work is expected to begin shortly on the construction of a museum on Inishbofin after planners gave the green light to the project.

The museum at Middlequarter is being developed by local historian and photographer Marie Coyne – and when completed, it will be home to items of historical significance from both Inishbofin and Inishark.

There is an existing museum on the island but it is too small to house the amount of artefacts, photographs and family histories that have been assembled over the years.

The new building will also include a photographic exhibition room, restoration workshop along with a gift shop and coffee dock. It is proposed that the new 3,400 square feet museum will be built on a site at the rear of Ms Coyne’s home.

Eamon Gavin of Eamon Gavin Architects based in Cornamona told the Connacht Tribune that this was an important project for the island and it was a welcome decision.

And he said that the green light would kickstart the process of conserving the vast and unique artefacts and archives built up over the years.

“As a practice, we have a long history of dealing with planning consultancy on unique rural sites in Connemara and the islands, therefore we fully understood how sensitive the proposed location of the project would be – the site is located in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and National Heritage Area,” he said.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Tuam woman a picture of health a year after Covid crisis

Declan Tierney

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Tuam's Kitty Farrell with her dog Lulu a year after her Covid diagnosis.

Last year was a Mother’s Day like no other for Kitty Farrell who spent it in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital with Covid – but the 80 year old Tuam woman can look forward to a more sedate celebration this time out….thankfully restored back to full health.

Kitty, from Ballygaddy Road, had developed a debilitating cough the previous week – and when she was admitted to UHG on Mother’s Day, she tested positive for the coronavirus despite a lack of symptoms.

The retired businesswoman spent the next nine days seriously ill in isolation – and all alone as her four children could not visit her.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come through it but I was so sick that at times, it didn’t really matter. But the thought of passing away in isolation made a bad situation even worse,” Kitty said at the time.

A year on, she is back to full health, and while she restricts her movements, Kitty told The Connacht Tribune that she is just happy to be alive and she spends her days ‘pottering about’ and looking forward to the arrival of family members.

“Even though I don’t particularly agree with the current lockdown because everyone should be responsible for their own behaviour, I am living a life of relative isolation at the moment,” she said.

Read Kitty’s full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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