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Twenty-year waiting list for bone scans to be cleared

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A vital bone density scanning service which would identify cases of osteoporosis has been saved after approval was given to recruit nine radiographers to clear a 20-year waiting list.

The DXA (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scanning unit at Merlin Park Hospital was due to be axed because of a shortage of staff which worsened in the recession.

John Carey, a specialist in osteoporosis, has been lobbying for the appointment of radiographers for the service, pointing out that one in three men and one in five women die within a year of suffering a hip fracture.

Ireland has one of the highest incidences of osteoporosis and hip fracture in the world – almost double many other countries and well above the UK and EU norms.

The cost of treating osteoporosis-related fractures is close to €1 billion annually.

DXA scanners, which provide bone X-rays and measure the strength of bones, are critical to the diagnosis of osteoporosis and in determining how to treat fractures.

Minister for State at the Department of Health Helen McEntee last week confirmed to the Dáil that one radiographer has already begun work, five more have been offered posts and three more positions have been advertised.

Until then, the Saolta Hospital Group are availing of private facilities, hiring agency staff and approving overtime to ensure the service is maintained.

Fine Gael Deputy Hildegarde Naughton said these nine full-time positions will go some way in alleviating the waiting lists for people in need of scans.

“I am told there is a 20 year waiting list, as it stands, for a DEXA scan in Merlin Park University Hospital. No referral has been processed in three years owing to a lack of staff,” she stated.

“The DXA scanner situated at Merlin Park is the only scanner not privately operated in the region. DXA is cheap, very safe and very cost-effective. Identifying people early helps them reduce their risk of fracture.

“After questioning the Minister of State at the Department of Health on the threatened closure of the DXA scanning unit at Merlin Park Hospital due to an inability to staff the unit, I am assured there will be a continuity of service until such time as all the additional radiographers are in post.”

Before 2008, the hospital operated two DXA scanners, five days a week, but more recently just one machine was operating for two half-days, creating a 20-year waiting list for bone scans, not deemed to be a priority.

Approval was given in 2013 for more staff, but the posts were not filled.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Rehearsals in full swing for pantos at Town Hall and An Taibhdhearc

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Jeacaí agus an Fathach Mór Dána’ will be performed at An Taibhdhearc.Photo: Boyd Challenger.

Galway’s two pantomimes are still forging full steam ahead amid advice for parents to limit children socialising indoors as Covid infection rates among unvaccinated youths continue to soar.

A concert featuring Julie Feeney and Ultan Conlon at the Town Hall Theatre planned for last night as well as gigs with comedian Eilish O’Carroll and folk singer Seán Keane have been deferred to March due to sluggish sales following a plea by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to limit social contacts.

Manager Fergal McGrath said sales up until a fortnight ago were very healthy and they have been very happy with the success of gigs with Billy Bragg, the Villagers and Kojaque in November with near full capacity and without incident.

“We’ve had some people cancel but nowhere near the figure in other venues,” he remarked.

“We relaxed our refunds policy and have maintained a very strict adherence to the guidelines checking vaccination certs, IDs, having space out queues and insisting that people wear masks. We closed the bar in the Town Hall as there wasn’t enough space to accommodate all patrons. In the Black Box, we operated a click and collect system and erected a marquee outside for people to drink.

“We have very receptive audiences, there is an absolute willingness to wear the masks that a year ago may not have been accepted. People were thanking us in the Black Box for still being able to get out. A member of the advisory team for NEPHET was at one of the shows and was very impressed with how we managed everything. It’s not been an easy few months, but we’ve figured out how to get through this and implement all the guidelines.”

Cinderella, this year’s Renmore Pantomime, is still expected to be staged from December 29 to January 9. The Town Hall made an early decision to reduce capacity to 60 per cent, which has proved fateful as around that level of tickets have now been sold.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Sweeping changes on way to fight congestion

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Traffic on the Headford Road approaching the junction close to Galway Shopping Centre.

A parking levy on workers; reduced public parking in the city centre; an end to additional road infrastructure; and reduced speed limits are all part of a new government plan to tackle congestion in the city.

In the Departments of Transport’s Demand Management Strategy, sweeping measures are proposed to reduce the number of cars on city roads – caveated with a warning that proper alternatives are required before significant changes are implemented.

Among the measures proposed is a levy on workplace parking spaces – a move the report suggests would cut by 5% the number of cars on Galway roads.

It is outlined that Nottingham was the first European city to introduce such a measure and proposes that a similar approach should be taken here whereby all monies raised by the levy are invested into public transport improvements.

The levy, it is claimed, would influence decisions to travel by car; reduce the space taken up by parked cars; and reduce costly parking infrastructure in new developments.

An attempted move towards this in 2008, which levied employers €200 for workplace parking spaces was fiercely resisted and ultimately collapsed.

However, the report concludes that it merits consideration – particularly for Galway where it deduces that congestion charges are not appropriate.

Elsewhere in the report, it is proposed that an up to 300% increase in the cost of on-street parking, in conjunction with an up to 50% cull of the space used for stationary cars, could result in a further reduction in congestion.

This measure, which is identified as a ‘relatively high priority’ for Galway, should form part of an overall strategy to remove on-street public parking spaces, including some residential parking permits, it states.

The report could spell bad news for the Government attitude towards funding the Galway City Ring Road –  on which an Bord Pleanála is due to give its decision by the end of this month.

The findings include an assertion that additional road infrastructure does not solve the issue of congestion – it could actually worsen the situation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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