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CITY TRIBUNE

Waiting list growing while ‘leaky’ operating theatres closed

Dara Bradley

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Operating theatres at Merlin Park Hospital, which were closed in 2017 due to leaking roofs, will now not be fully open until this coming Summer at the earliest.

And the latest figures confirm that the waiting list for orthopaedic surgery has grown to 1,500 people since the theatres were closed. This is despite repeated assurances that the situation would be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

A group of 10 orthopaedic surgeons wrote to Health Minister Simon Harris this week confirming that 1,500 patients are waiting for complex joint replacements, spinal surgery, foot and ankle and shoulder surgery and that the waiting list continues to expand exponentially.

The list, they said, is as long as it was back in September 2017 when the problem first emerged and two theatres were closed because of leaks in the ceiling.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly has raised the matter numerous times in the Dáil and has been told that modular theatres would be provided as a matter of urgency and in the intervening period alternative arrangements would be made for the patients.

Saolta confirmed a service had been restored in March 2018 with the provision of one new theatre. It said that contracts had been exchanged for a modular theatre, however no explanation has been forthcoming as to why it will be the middle of 2019 before the new theatre is opened.

“It is completely unacceptable that no progress appears to have been made in the provision of modular theatres almost a year and a half after the initial closure. I welcome the fact that the surgeons have spoken out on behalf of their suffering patients and as well as raising it in the Dáil I will be asking Minister Harris for an urgent meeting in this regard.”

The HSE sought planning permission in December for a new modular theatre building on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital, to replace the existing units and officials said they are hopeful that the existing theatre – which re-opened in March 2018 – can be used to relieve waiting lists at UHG.

The new 613 square metre building and link corridor at the main hospital building will replace the existing to theatres, which the HSE has described as “no longer fit for purpose”.

According to the planning application, the development is an “upgrade and consolidation” of the existing theatre services, with no discernible increase in staff, patient or vehicle movements.

A decision on the planning application is expected at the end of this month.

CITY TRIBUNE

Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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