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UHG nurses highlight hike in patients on trolleys

Ciaran Tierney

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The number of patients on trolleys at UHG’s A&E has more that doubled since last year.

Nurses at University Hospital Galway (UHG) are set to stage a lunch-time protest tomorrow in response to a dramatic increase in the number of patients sleeping on trolleys overnight compared to this time last year.

Figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) yesterday show that there was an 118% increase in the number of patients on trolleys at UHG last month compared to August of last year.

The INMO Trolley and Ward Watch figures show that 319 patients overnighted on trolleys at UHG last month compared to 146 in August 2013.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran told The Sentinel that the UHG figures were “truly shocking” and represented a clear warning that health service cuts had already gone too far.

“Every one of those patients is a person who has been forced to spend a night on a trolley,” he said. “It is a scandalous situation. We cannot talk about an economic recovery while we are facing such unacceptable pressures on our health service.”

“We have had five years of successive cuts to our health service. It’s not acceptable that so many people in Galway are lying on trolleys overnight and we need a realistic Budget for 2015. It is quite clear that the health service is under-funded.”

He said the year-on-year increase in the number of patients on trolleys at UHG was among the worst at any public hospital in the country.

While the number of patients on trolleys normally tends to decrease during the summer months, Mr Doran said the indicators were “very, very bad” ahead of the coming winter season.

“The INMO commenced counting the number of patients on trolleys, in both Emergency Departments and Wards, in 2004. To say that we are still counting ten years later is a shocking indictment of our health service and of successive Governments,” he told The Sentinel.

He has encouraged members of the public to join nurses at the demonstration against overcrowding at UHG outside the hospital gates tomorrow (Wednesday, 1 to 2pm).

“This is a significant problem for our members, but it is a huge problem for members of the public as patients are suffering. The Government must acknowledge the extent of the crisis and stop pretending that the health service can do more with less,” he added.

Connacht Tribune

Compliant Galwegians are keeping their distance

Francis Farragher

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Checkpoint...Garda warning for those who stray too far from home.

BOY racers, cyclists, gym users and young people attending house parties are among those in Galway who have been issued with Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) for breaching the Covid-19 travel regulations over the past week.

However, Gardaí in Galway have reported ‘a very high-level of compliance’ from the general public as regards the travel restrictions that are a central part of the Level-5 ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’ Covid campaign.

Over the weekend, Gardaí issued FPNs to so-called ‘boy racers’ in two separate cases on the Tuam Road outside Galway city and in the Craughwell area.

FPNs – involving a €100 on-the-spot fine – were also issued last week to a number of young people attending house parties in the Galway city area, after Gardaí had been called to the scene.

Two cyclists stopped in the Cornamona area of North Connemara last week, who were 19 kilometres from their homes – and outside their own county boundary – also faced Garda censure.

The cyclists weren’t from the same household; they weren’t wearing masks; and also, were in breach of social distancing regulations.

Gardaí also came across a case of a gym in South Galway being used by a number of people last week – also a breach of the Covid-19, Level-5 restrictions.

While Gardaí also received a number of calls about possible ‘pub-opening’ violations, on investigation, they found no sign of activity on the premises they checked out.

Galway Chief Garda Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Connacht Tribune that overall, there was ‘a very high level of compliance’ as regards the travel restrictions which was ‘very encouraging’.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – 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

Lessons learned on home-schooling

Denise McNamara

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Cathal Moore, principal of the Presentation Athenry.

Home-schooling is working better this time round with many teachers conducting live classes and more students actively engaging than when schools closed suddenly last March.

But virtual education is a poor substitute for the experience of the classroom with students sorely missing social interaction, according to teachers, while parents are still struggling to balance working from home with ensuring their children keep up with the school work.

The sooner that schools can reopen safely the better for everyone – although most agree that it’s looking more likely to be after mid-term than at the beginning of February.

“Everybody is in a better place this time round – schools, teachers, parents and students. Everybody expected to be back at school. It’s no secret last time we got two hours’ notice but this time round we’re better prepared,” remarks the principal of the Presentation Athenry, Cathal Moore.

The mixed secondary school is doing a mix of live and recorded classes as not every student has good broadband.

After the first week, there was feedback from students that they felt there was too much homework in addition to the virtual classes while teachers reported that they would prefer more live communication from their charges.

“It is more tiring – fatigue is definitely a factor when on a screen all day and if this goes on for a prolonged amount of time it will creep in for a growing number of students.”

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

Hard-pressed hospitals down 450 staff over Covid

Dara Bradley

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More than 450 staff – including nurses at UHG and Portiuncula – are now out of work due to Covid, as staff shortages threaten the public hospitals’ ability to cope with the crisis.

The upsurge has seen UHG deal with a record number of Covid-19 patients, and the hospital had to escalate its surge capacity plan and add extra beds in ICU.

The latest CSO figures reveal that the first week of the New Year was Galway’s deadliest yet on the pandemic front, with five lives lost over those opening seven days of 2021.

That brought the total number of virus fatalities in Galway to 25, and it’s understood there have been further deaths locally since then, which will be confirmed later.

From March to the end of November there were 20 deaths notified in Galway, and no further deaths were recorded in all of December.

News of Galway’s deadliest week comes as local leaders in the HSE, Garda, and local government joined forces to warn that Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the community.

Nationally, between January 5 and 18, there were 263 Covid-19 deaths recorded, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which does not give a geographical breakdown. Of these deaths, 119 were hospitalised and 14 had been admitted to ICU.

The median age of all of Galway’s Covid fatalities is 83; the median age of the confirmed cases in Galway is 31 – the lowest of 26 counties.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – 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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