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CITY TRIBUNE

Varadkar: fresh doubts over new hospital at Merlin Park

Enda Cunningham

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Galway City Tribune – Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that the development of a new public hospital on the grounds of Merlin Park could be under threat following the planning refusal for the new Galway Hospice.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, Mr Varadkar spoke of the “planning problems” at Merlin Park – which had already been identified as the preferred location for a new hospital for Galway City.

The Taoiseach said that “very sadly and unfortunately”, An Bord Pleanála had turned down the plans for a new hospice there.

“Merlin Park as a solution for new hospital developments must be considered in the light of planning problems at the site where planning permission for the hospice has just been refused,” he said.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

CITY TRIBUNE

Commission critical of Mental Health Unit at UHG

Dara Bradley

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Aspects of Galway’s new psychiatric unit – officially launched by a Government minister to much fanfare this week – have been branded “inadequate” and “inappropriate”, in an official report published last week.

The Mental Health Commission has highlighted failings at the new Adult Acute Mental Health Unit at University Hospital Galway, following an official complaint from a chairperson of a Mental Health Tribunal held at the facility.

An inspector with the Mental Health Commission carried out an inspection of the unit and found that the Mental Health Tribunal room there “was not adequately sized, ventilated and soundproofed and that the facilities did not respect the dignity of the patient during the Mental Health Tribunal”.

The new unit was built last year, at a cost of €20 million, after the old building was decommissioned because it was ‘not fit for purpose’.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) moved to address a number of issues at the new facility, after a series of complaints from service users and their advocates, were highlighted in this newspaper.

Patients said they felt isolated, demeaned and dehumanised in the new unit. Lack of sleep due to the noisiness of the new inpatient facility, and a reduction in human contact with staff since it opened last Autumn were chief among the concerns. A ‘draconian’ no-smoking policy where inpatients and visitors are ‘stopped and searched’ for tobacco, and where those caught smoking outside the unit were ‘punished’, was also causing distress.

Last February, the HSE acknowledged there were infrastructural problems with the new facility, and said it was working to address lighting and noise issues at the new unit. It defended its ‘no smoking’ policy.

This latest report from the Mental Health Commission into the failings of the new facility, was published the day after Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, officially ‘cut the ribbon’ on the new unit last Monday.

On the eve of his visit, the Galway City Tribune contacted some of the inpatients who had complained about the facility last year. “Unfortunately, none of the issues we raised about the unit have been addressed as of yet,” said one service user who responded.

The centre has 50 beds, and residents are referred there by 12 consultant-led teams, including two psychiatry of later life teams, a mental health intellectual disability team, and a rehabilitation and recovery team.

In July of this year, the Mental Health Commission carried out an inspection of the facility, after receiving complaints about the provision of appropriate private facilities and adequate resources to support the Mental Health Tribunal process.

“This room where mental health tribunals were held was partitioned to provide a tribunal room and a training/multi-purpose room. It was not soundproofed and proceedings could be heard in the training room next door. The room was small, approximately five metres long and 3.5 metres wide. A narrow table with six chairs was in the centre of the room. The width of the table did not allow adequate space for people sitting opposite each other being insufficient to accommodate mental health tribunal members, the patient, his/her advocate, any attending nurses and the consultant psychiatrist. There were no windows; there was a Velux style window in the ceiling, which could be opened remotely. The room was stuffy and hot at the time of the inspection. The room infringed the right of the patient to be treated with respect and dignity during the tribunal process,” the inspector found.

A previous inspection of the tribunal room in the old ‘not fit for purpose’ building, found that it was bright and spacious, with natural light coming through a number of windows along one wall, and it was well ventilated. This room was now being used for training and meetings and all tribunal hearings are now held in the smaller room, according to staff.

The Mental Health Commission issued an Immediate Action Notice to address these concerns and said in a statement this week that it was “engaging with the approved centre to ensure the service is meeting the needs of patients attending a Mental Health Tribunal”.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Good luck England ! – as the poster and I screamed ….

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Mark Gardiner

Mark Gardiner, our man in Japan for the Rugby World Cup

Excitement has been building all week and even though Hiroshima isn’t a host city we are still getting a fair share of rugby fans passing through.  Since last Saturday I’ve noticed some Irish fans coming into the pub, people who have arrived to take in some of the sights of Japan and then head off to take in the some of the pool matches.

There’s been some from Wexford, Mayo, Roscommon, Kerry, Laois, Dublin and Donegal but none from Cork yet!  All of those fans will now be making their way to Yokohama which is situated right next to Tokyo and around 4 hours on the bullet train from Hiroshima.  I’m giving the first two games a miss and will wait for Ireland to move closer to my adopted home city.

The Russia game will be held in Kobe, just one hour away, so I’ll be going to that with my son Tom on the eve of his 10th birthday.  More accustomed to going to baseball games together hopefully he’ll see a try fest and enjoy a very different sporting atmosphere.

Earlier in the week, my Guinness rep walked in looking proud as punch to present me with five big Guinness posters for the rugby. As I unrolled one I couldn’t believe my eyes!  [See poster below.]   He couldn’t understand so I told him it was like having a Kirin beer poster with “good luck Korea” on it. He got the message pretty lively!

For some reason, the big story here is how much beer rugby fans drink.  They’re very wary about bars, restaurants and stadiums running out so there have been numerous articles in papers telling landlords to order twice the norm.  I had the local newspaper calling me yesterday almost begging me to tell them that I’d ordered way more beer than I normally would.

Tonight we have the opening game at 19:45 local time so hoping to get a good crowd into the pub for that.  I will try and post some photos in the next few days. A big win for Japan is probably vital in order to catapult the tournament into the mainstream consciousness so hopefully, they won’t disappoint.

If anyone reading this plans to come out, there is a great forum on Facebook “Irish Rugby World Cup Japan Forum” or you can contact me on the Molly Malone’s Hiroshima Facebook page. Fingers crossed for Sunday.

Follow Mark Gardiners World Cup Diary here and on the Galway App.

Mark Gardiner is a former Galway resident now resident in Hiroshima, Japan where he owns and operates Molly Malones Bar.

Read his weekly unique insight into the 2019 Rugby World Cup here and on the Galway App. 

Galway App Links

Apple – https://tinyurl.com/yy8b6uq7
Android – https://tinyurl.com/y5pcyunp

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

More than 70 kids under 12 in Direct Provision in Salthill

Enda Cunningham

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The Eglinton Direct Provision Centre in Salthill

Galway City Tribune – More than 70 children under the age of 12 are living in a Direct Provision Centre in Salthill, figures from the Department of Justice show.

The Eglinton can house up to 210 people who are either seeking asylum or have been granted refugee status but have been unable to secure alternative accommodation.

The statistics show that the Salthill centre – which is for families and single females – has 77 residents under the age of 18.

Of these, 35 are aged four or under; 37 are aged between 5 and 12; and five are between 13 and 17 years of age.

Direct Provision is big business for service providers – figures show the companies behind Galway City’s two centres earned more than €77m since 2000. Last year alone, the Eglinton made a profit of €520,000.

The Great Western House centre off Eyre Square is for single males only, and there are currently no people under the age of 17 resident there. That centre has a maximum occupancy of 162 people.

Between both centres in Galway, there were a total of 359 occupants at the end of July.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage on Direct Provision in Galway, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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