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


UHG rolls out major works programme



University Hospital Galway will be a hive of building activity over the next three years as the HSE moves units around in an expensive game of infrastructural chess in a bid to accommodate a constant increase in patients.

The two major priorities for UHG are to build a new emergency department and complete a 75-bed ward to take the pressure off that unit by early 2017, explained Saolta Hospital Group chief executive officer Maurice Power at last week’s Regional Health Forum West meeting.

Work on the 75-bed block beside the maternity unit began in July to build all single rooms.

No formal approval had been yet received to go to the design stage of a new emergency department. A cost benefit analysis had been submitted to the HSE and had received the support of various committees but written approval has yet to be secured, Mr Power told councillors.

However visits by politicians, including Health Minister Leo Varadkar, had ensured there was an understanding of the overcrowding there at the highest levels.

“Because of winter pressures in Galway, we don’t  have enough beds to put them [patients] in…the new unit will give us 75 more beds but we can’t wait until 2016. By mid-December we hope to have access to the physiotherapy unit to create an emergency ward with 30 beds.”

The physiotherapy unit will be relocated – outpatients will be seen in Merlin Park while inpatients will be treated by staff working in the social work department. The social work staff have also been moved elsewhere on the site.

The surgical day ward was being used as an overflow for patients in the emergency department, which resulted in elective procedures being cancelled.

Once the emergency ward was opened that should free up the surgical day ward for elective procedures, he stated.

Tony Canavan, recently appointed chief officer for Galway Mayo Roscommon community services within the Saolta Group, outlined the range of new developments for the hospital campus.

A new radiation oncology unit was being created where the adult mental health unit was located. A new acute mental health unit is being built to replace the old one on the site of an existing staff car park.

To replace those car spaces, a two-deck car park is currently under construction and is expected to be operational early 2016. This is a replacement staff car park and is being built on the site of existing surface car parking.

The helipad was moved temporarily from beside the paediatric unit to the Community Park in Shantalla during the building works.

Initially the helipad was scheduled to be in the park for 6 months, but is now likely to be there until the end of next February – 18 months after the temporary landing pad was set up.

In answer to questions from Headford Councillor Mary Hoade, the HSE revealed 1,714 elective procedures were deferred or cancelled, half of them by the hospital due to overcapacity or a lack of staff.

The Fianna Fáil representative said she knew of one child with special needs who has had an elective procedure cancelled several times at very last minute, causing great distress to the family.

During her 11-year tenure as a councillor, she has heard constantly about the need for a new emergency department without the slightest progress being made.

“It’s time to get the national steering group making a decision. There’s terrible pressure on staff in the emergency department. We saw the pressure in July, God only knows what it’s going to be like this winter.”

Cllr Catherine Connolly said the hospital should follow the lead of the national children’s hospital and create a proper hospital on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital which boasted 140 acres in a city location.

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