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


Health service lurching from crisis to crisis



Galway’s public health service continues to lurch from crisis to crisis with a surge in people waiting on trolleys the latest scandal to hit local hospitals.

New nurses figures reveal that there has been a 59% surge in the numbers of patients forced to languish on trolleys at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

The Trolley Watch figures for June come in the same month it was revealed that over 1,000 cancer patients had their outpatient appointments postponed since January at UHG because of staff shortages which led to reductions in oncology clinics.

The trolley figures also come as further 850 rheumatology outpatient appointments were postponed for several months due to staff shortages, which has led to summer clinic closures.

The INMO figures show there were a total of 670 patients on trolleys in the Emergency Department of UHG last month, the highest number for June since the union began compiling the figures in 2006.

It represents a 59% increase on the 422 who were on trolleys in ED and wards in June 2014.

In May of this year there were some 524 patients on trolleys, up by a quarter compared with the same month in 2014.

There were 67 patients on trolleys in Portiuncula in June, an increase of 12% compared with the same month in 2014.

May was even busier in the Ballinasloe ED – there were 101 patients on trolleys in May, compared with 23 in 2014, representing a 340% rise.

Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Colm Keaveney said the figures are alarming. He said the situation has deteriorated at UHG over three years and is now “almost beyond repair”.

Deputy Keaveney added: “Every month hundreds of people are being treated in crowded emergency rooms and packed wards as the Health Minister sits back without intervening. This is causing much stress and anxiety not only for the patients themselves, who are being deprived of dignity in these exposed areas, but also for the frontline staff charged with their care.

“Over the past three years, the number of people on trolleys in UHG has jumped from 181 in 2013, to 422 in 2014 and stood at 670 last month. This is completely unacceptable.  Services in Galway have not been sufficiently expanded to deal with the increased demand. Units outside of UHG have been shut and have not been replaced, leading to a greater demand on the existing services.

“The status quo cannot be allowed to continue. Patients are being compromised and urgent action is needed. The entire health system is creaking under the strain and Emergency Departments are bearing the brunt of the burden. Additional funding and resources across the health service must be allocated to ease the pressure. Minister Varadkar needs to stop commentating and take immediate action to resolve this crisis.”

Liam Doran, INMO general secretary, said the overcrowding situation is so bad in the country’s Emergency Departments that his members are, “embarrassed to have to face patients and their families who have to suffer this indignity in our health care system”.

Mr Doran said: “Every day is the same inside Emergency Departments where elderly people on trolleys are lined up, head to toe, along small narrow corridors with insufficient nurses to care for them.”

The INMO called for more nurses to be employed and weekend discharges.  The figures were released in the same week Minister Varadkar visits Galway.

The Minister will be in UHG on Friday, and Government backbencher, Labour Party TD, Derek Nolan, says a new, bigger Emergency Department is vital to solving the problem.

Deputy Nolan said: “The Minister has stated to me in the Dáil that the current building is not fit for purpose and a new building has to be the medium to long term solution. I am looking forward to his visit so that he can finally see the reality of the situation.

“Getting a new ED is a priority for me and, more importantly, a priority for the people of Galway. A good standard of healthcare is the fundamental basis of any society and investing in infrastructure is a key component of that.”

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