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.
Violent incident in Tuam leaves seven hospitalised
Gardaí are investigating after an incident in Tuam yesterday left seven people injured.
A violent altercation broke out between a large group at the cemetery in Tuam at about 4pm yesterday.
Around 30 Gardaí responded to the incident at the cemetery on the Athenry Road in Tuam, which broke out following two funerals in the area.
Gardaí supported by members from the wider North Western Region and the Regional Armed Support Unit had to physically intervene between parties and disperse those present.
Five males and two females were injured during the course of the incident and were taken to University Hospital Galway with non-life threatening injuries.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the scene, as he tried to flee in possession of a knife.
He was taken to Tuam Garda Station and has since been released. A file is being prepared for the Juvenile Liaison Officer.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to this incident or for anyone with any information to contact Tuam Garda Station .
Anger over ANC ‘snip’
ANGRY farmers hit out during last week’s Galway IFA at the Dept. of Agriculture over what they described as their ‘heavy handed tactics’ in docking BEAM penalties from ANC payments made last week.
Although Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, has apologised for the actions taken by his Department officials, delegates who attended last Thursday’s night county IFA meeting in the Claregalway Hotel, hit out at what happened.
In some cases, according to Galway IFA Chairperson, Anne Mitchell, farmers who had already paid back the BEAM penalty also had the money deducted from their ANC (Areas of Natural Constraint) payments made last week.
Many farmers received ‘a shock in the post’ when their ANC payments were hit with the deductions of penalties from the BEAM scheme – earlier they had been warned of interest penalties if any balances weren’t repaid within 30 days.
At the core of the problem was the inclusion of a 5% stock numbers reduction in the BEAM scheme (Beef Exceptional Aid Measure) aimed at helping to compensate farmers for a drop-off in beef prices between September, 2018 and May, 2019.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Siblings find each other – and their Connemara roots – after 80 years
By Erin Gibbons
A family separated for over 80 years was reunited at the end of an emotional journey in Connemara last weekend – thanks to DNA testing and the expert help of heritage researchers.
Pat McKeown, who lives in Staffordshire in the UK, is the daughter of Síle Gorham from Roisín Na Mainiach, Carna – but she was given up for adoption and reared for a time in a Belfast Mother and Baby Home.
Now, at the age of 81, she found her roots – returning to her mother’s native place for the first time last weekend, in the company of her long-lost brother Micheál.
It was an emotional end to a lifelong search for her roots that even led her to hire a private detective to try and locate her family and to discover her name.
All of this proved unsuccessful – and she had effectively given up her search when she was contacted unexpectedly by a man called Miceál McKeown, who turned out to be her brother.
Micheál – an artist and sculptor – and his daughter Orla had made the connection through DNA testing, after Miceál too had set out to discover more about his own roots.
That revealed that Síle Gorham had married Michael McKeown in 1939, and Síle went on to have three more children named Áine, Séan and Miceál.
Pat visited Connemara last weekend for the first time to learn about her mother Síle and the Connemara ancestry which she feels was robbed from her for her entire 81 years.
She was accompanied by Miceál, his wife Rosemary, daughter Orla and son-in-law Rueben Keogh.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie