Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us


Deferred strike causes surgery cancellations



Some 17 surgeries were postponed at Galway city’s main public hospital on Tuesday, despite nurses’ deferring planned strike action at the West’s largest Emergency Department.

Management at University Hospital Galway (UHG) confirmed that the “non urgent elective” surgeries postponed due to the threat of strike action by ED nurses will be rescheduled.

“There were seven inpatient admissions and ten day case admissions cancelled,” confirmed Saolta University Healthcare Group, which is responsible for UHG.

“All patients affected will be contacted directly by the hospital. A new date will be re-scheduled as soon as possible.”

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced Monday night that it was deferring strike action at UHG and six other EDs nationwide. It said two planned strike days in January (Tuesdays 12 and 26) remain in place.

Nurses will vote on a deal brokered between INMO and the Health Service Executive (HSE) over the next fortnight following a proposal that emerged at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The new measures under the package include, “tightening and earlier activation of the national ‘escalation’ policy” to minimise overcrowding and waits on trolleys and to avoid extra beds and trolleys on inpatient wards.

The package includes measures to assist with recruitment and retention of nurses in EDs, including minimum staff levels, and an educational bursary for new entrants, worth €1,500 and payable after 12 months in employment. It also includes measures to improve health and safety of EDs.

UHG repeated its view that its Emergency Department is “not fit for purpose” and the need to replace it is “urgent”.  It said 30 extra inpatient beds, close to ED, will be in place “shortly”.  “These beds will provide much needed additional patient accommodation. Work is also continuing on the construction of a new 75-bed ward block to provide single room in-patient accommodation and this is expected to be completed in 18 months,” it said.

UHG said the ED continues to be “extremely busy” with a “sustained increase in the emergency admission rate throughout the year”.

Prior to the deferral of strike action, nurses at UHG’s ED said their protest was against “years of inhumane, undignified and immoral conditions that we, as professionals, and the patients we are accountable to, have endured.”

The nurses said their “ability to maintain safe standards of care, in the face of horrendous overcrowding, is being compromised, due to inadequate staffing and a building that has been described by so many as being ‘unfit for purpose’.”

In a letter, the nurses said: “Our patients deserve safe standards of care. They deserve clean, well-staffed, timely professional nursing care when they attend our ED. Patients, and their families, have witnessed first-hand the mayhem, congestion, abuse and intolerable conditions that nurses and patients have had to endure in the ED setting. What a sad indictment of a health service that purports to put the patient first!”

The letter was signed by Siobhan McGrath, Sinead O’Neill, Pamela Bartley, Marina O’Flanagan and Ann Marie Considine on behalf of all INMO ED staff at UHG.

Fianna Fáil County Councillor and election candidate in Galway West, Mary Hoade, fears the city hospital will creak under further pressures of winter.

“I am extremely worried about what will happen over the next few months, when winter takes hold and traditionally we see more people admitted to hospital. The ED at UHG is already seriously over capacity and I have grave concerns that it will reach breaking point when more people begin arriving into the Department in January and February,” said Cllr Hoade.

Sinn Féin election candidate in Galway East, Annemarie Roche, criticised the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar and said 30 new beds was not enough to solve the ED crisis.

Social Democrats candidate in Galway West, Niall Ó Tuathail, who has worked in the NHS in England, said the easiest way to alleviate pressure on the ED is to reduce the amount of people who need to go there. This could be achieved through an expansion of primary care, a phone triage service, and opening out-of-hours minor injuries units, he said.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest



Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.

A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.

For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.

These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.

“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.

In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races



Loughrea’s Marathon Man Jarlath Fitzgerald.

On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.

But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.

“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”

We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.

Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.

To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.

He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.

Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading


Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises



From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.

Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.

She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.

“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.

“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.

She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.

In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.

But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.

“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.

“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.

Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.

However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.

“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.

“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”

In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.

“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”

Continue Reading