Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Galway West Cllr. Mary Hoade has called on the Health Minister to urgently address the ongoing capacity crisis at University Hospital Galway.  Despite the fact that a nurses strike scheduled for today was averted, further industrial action is still looming in January and February and as a result of the cancellation of elective surgeries today, waiting lists look set to rise.

The Annaghdown based Councillor explained, “I have seen first-hand the deplorable conditions that patients and staff in the Emergency Department are having to deal with every day and it is truly shocking.  Just over two weeks ago, I along with Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin, Éamon Ó Cuív TD and General Election candidate John Connolly visited the unit and met with nurses and patients and were appalled by the conditions.  Children were lying on the floor, there were back to back trolleys along the corridors, and some older people were being treated in chairs.  These are not acceptable conditions in a first world country.

“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.  The meagre measures announced by Minister Leo Varadkar to date have done nothing to allieviate the pressure on the ED in Galway.  There is no doubt that patient safety is at risk but nothing is being done.

“The Taoiseach himself has admitted that the Emergency Department is unfit for purpose, however he has no plans to improve it.  There is no mention of UHG in the Capital Expenditure plan, so it will be at least another five years before we see any investment in the hospital under this Government.  This is nothing short of disgraceful.

“The INMO is now warning that more elective surgeries will have to be cancelled if the overcrowding crisis is to be effectively tackled, leading to increased waiting times for procedures.  Waiting lists at UHG are already unsustainable and all the Minister has done is shift the target times.

“The conditions at UHG are being replicated right across the country but aside from commentating on how terrible the situation is, the Health Minister and the Taoiseach have done nothing to address it.  This deterioration in services cannot be allowed to continue.  Frontline staff have been pushed to the limit as a result of inadequate staffing levels and a lack of investment in services.  Something has to give”.