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Connacht Tribune

Temporary theatres will not be ready to open before January

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It will be next January at the earliest before two temporary operating theatres open in Merlin Park Hospital – and concerns have been expressed over whether they will require planning permission.

The theatres are to replace two existing units at the hospital which had to be shut down because of a leaking roof, forcing the cancellation of all orthopaedic surgeries.

Health Minister Simon Harris met with Galway TDs, as well as HSE officials and consultants from Merlin Park and University Hospital Galway last week to discuss the latest crisis to hit the health service in the West.

Independent Deputy for Galway West, Catherine Connolly said: “It emerged during that meeting that this was a crisis waiting to happen given that it was accepted by all that the building housing the operating theatres was not fit for purpose for a considerable time.

“As a result of this and previous governments’ failures to deal with this situation, the inevitable crisis resulted with the scandalous situation of a leaking roof in an operating theatre.

“Consequently approximately 60 patients scheduled for knee and hip operations on a weekly basis have been left without not just care but furthermore any knowledge of when they will get their operations,” said Deputy Connolly.

She said that given the nature of the crisis, and that it is now over a month since the first leak occurred, the failure to provide a written contingency plan at the meeting was of great concern.

“Indeed, it has taken all of this pressure, including raising the matter in the Dáil, for management and the Minster to consider interim solutions. Amongst those solutions are the re-opening of St Finbar’s Ward in UHG (which begs the question as to why it remained closed in the first place), the use of private facilities, and the provision of modular operating theatres.

“While these proposals are welcome as a temporary solution, the lack of clarity around planning permission for the modular theatres, including a time span for their erection, and the delay in opening St Finbar’s is of great concern, particularly in light of the amount of time that has elapsed since the leak was first detected,” she said.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael Deputy for Galway West, Hildegarde Naughton, has warned against a stopgap solution to the problem at Merlin Park, and reiterated her call for the development of a new acute hospital on the grounds of Merlin Park.

“We need to stop firefighting and addressing recurrent problems with sticking-plaster solutions. We have a responsibility to plan for the long-term and ensure that adequate healthcare infrastructure is in place to meet the needs of both this and future generations in Galway.

“This isn’t about repairing a roof – it’s about fixing the local health service. Patient safety will continue to be compromised by situations like this unless the present facilities are replaced with a new hospital that is fit for purpose,” said Deputy Naughton.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who also attended the meeting, said it could be January at the earliest before the proposed temporary operating theatres are working at Merlin Park.

“The HSE and the Minister have agreed to install two temporary operating theatres. However, even if everything goes according to plan, it will be January 2018 at the earliest before they are operational.

“It is worrying that when we asked the situation with regard to planning that no straight answer could be given and if these temporary operating theatres are subject to the planning process then January 2018 is not a realistic target date for them to come into use.

“There are also plans to open another ward at the University Hospital in Galway this week and we are awaiting word as to whether private hospitals will be allocating theatre space to the patients who are missing out in Merlin Park at the moment,” said Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Connacht Tribune

West has lower cancer survival rates than rest

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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 www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway minors continue to lay waste to all opponents

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Galway's Aaron Niland is chased by Cillian O'Callaghan of Cork during Saturday's All-Ireland Minor Hurling semi-final at Semple Stadium. Photo: Stephen Marken/Sportsfile.

Galway 3-18

Cork 1-10

NEW setting; new opposition; new challenge. It made no difference to the Galway minor hurlers as they chalked up a remarkable sixth consecutive double digits championship victory at Semple Stadium on Saturday.

The final scoreline in Thurles may have been a little harsh on Cork, but there was no doubting Galway’s overall superiority in setting up only a second-ever All-Ireland showdown against Clare at the same venue on Sunday week.

Having claimed an historic Leinster title the previous weekend, Galway took a while to get going against the Rebels and also endured their first period in a match in which they were heavily outscored, but still the boys in maroon roll on.

Beating a decent Cork outfit by 14 points sums up how formidable Galway are. No team has managed to lay a glove on them so far, and though Clare might ask them questions other challengers haven’t, they are going to have to find significant improvement on their semi-final win over 14-man Kilkenny to pull off a final upset.

Galway just aren’t winning their matches; they are overpowering the teams which have stood in their way. Their level of consistency is admirable for young players starting off on the inter-county journey, while the team’s temperament appears to be bombproof, no matter what is thrown at them.

Having romped through Leinster, Galway should have been a bit rattled by being only level (0-4 each) after 20 minutes and being a little fortunate not to have been behind; or when Cork stormed out of the blocks at the start of the second half by hitting 1-4 to just a solitary point in reply, but there was never any trace of panic in their ranks.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Gardaí and IFA issue a joint appeal on summer road safety

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Galway IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair Teresa Roche

GARDAÍ and the IFA have issued a joint appeal to all road users to take extra care as the silage season gets under way across the country.

Silage harvesting started in many parts of Galway last week – and over the coming month, the sight of tractors and trailers on rural roads will be getting far more frequent.

Inspector Conor Madden, who is in charge of Galway Roads Policing, told the Farming Tribune that a bit of extra care and common-sense from all road users would go a long way towards preventing serious collisions on roads this summer.

“One thing I would ask farmers and contractors to consider is to try and get more experienced drivers working for them.

“Tractors have got faster and bigger – and they are also towing heavy loads of silage – so care and experience are a great help in terms of accident prevention,” Inspector Madden told the Farming Tribune.

He said that tractor drivers should always be aware of traffic building up behind them and to pull in and let these vehicles pass, where it was safe to do so.

“By the same token, other road users should always exercise extra care; drive that bit slower; and ‘pull in’ that bit more, when meeting tractors and heavy machinery.

“We all want to see everyone enjoying a safe summer on our roads – that extra bit of care, and consideration for other roads users can make a huge difference,” said Conor Madden.

He also advised motorists and tractor drivers to be acutely aware of pedestrians and cyclists on the roads during the summer season when more people would be out walking and cycling on the roads.

The IFA has also joined in on the road safety appeal with Galway IFA Farm Family and Social Affairs Chair Teresa Roche asking all road users to exercise that extra bit of care and caution.

“We are renewing our annual appeal for motorists to be on the look out for tractors, trailers and other agricultural machinery exiting from fields and farmyards,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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