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Waiting lists for Galway hospitals radically cut

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 10-Sep-2012

Galway’s two public hospitals have radically reduced their waiting lists for inpatient treatment since the start of the year – and management say they have managed to treat more patients with a significantly reduced budget.

Thousands of patients were facing having to wait nine months or more for hospital treatment in UHG and Merlin Park hospitals in January, but their numbers have been reduced to less than one-tenth of that total, with the aim being to have nobody waiting that long.

Management from Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group met with Oireachtas and Regional Health Forum West members from Galway and Roscommon yesterday to provide an update on progress within the Group, which oversees the operation of the two city hospitals as well as Portiuncula in Ballinasloe and Roscommon County Hospital.

The Group’s CEO, Bill Maher, said that they had made “excellent progress” on service priorities set down at the start of the year.

“Our service priorities were to jointly improve patients’ access to the Emergency Departments and to meet the challenging Special Delivery Unit target for inpatient waiting lists which is a nine-month wait time for adults and 20-week wait time for children. I can report that we have made excellent progress on all that we set out to do in the first nine months.”

Tony Canavan, Chief Operating Officer, told the meeting that trolley waits in the Emergency Departments had reduced despite significant increase in admissions – in the city hospitals in June there were on average nine patients waiting to be admitted at 8am (down from an average of 24 in February).

“Specific actions taken in GUH include extending the opening times of the Acute Medical Unit to 24 hours and opening a 32 bed short stay medical unit. We have appointed two new patient co-ordinators (medicine and surgery) and a permanent discharge co-ordinator to ensure that patients get into hospital as quickly as possible.

“We have reviewed the bed usage and assigned beds specifically for medicine (including oncology) and surgery use. Now that we have better information on the flows of patients we are able to plan towards delivering zero 9-hour waits and 95% 6-hour waits in line with national targets. Although we still have some way to go, we have evidence that our approach to date is showing results.”

Mr Canavan added that in January, there were 9,901 people on the inpatient waiting list who would potentially breach the target of waiting longer than nine months if they were not seen by the target date of September 30 – but by Thursday last they had reduced the number waiting to 794 patients and were on course to achieve the SDU target by the end of this month.

“The improvements in the waiting list have been made possible by introducing a range of measures including waiting list validation, improved reporting and focus, more effective use of resources across all of the hospitals in the Group, patient education and engagement as well as increasing theatre capacity by opening previously closed theatres.

“Most importantly it is the effort of the staff in all four hospitals in the Group that is making it possible and I would like to acknowledge the dedication of all staff and their ongoing commitment to meeting the inpatient waiting list target.”

He pointed out that the level of patient activity across the Group compared to last year had increased considerably: inpatient admissions have increased by 9%, day case admissions have increased by 9%, Emergency Department activity has increased by 7% and Outpatient Department activity has increased by 5%.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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