Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Galway West John Connolly has called on the Health Minister to explain why he chose not to visit the psychiatric unit at University Hospital Galway when he was at the hospital last week.  Minister Leo Varadkar visited the hospital last Friday but failed to call to the psychiatric unit, which has been at the centre of industrial action in recent months.

Mr. Connolly commented, “Staff at the psychiatric unit at University Hospital Galway have been raising concerns about the safety of patients for some time, and were even forced to take industrial action in April in an attempt to get management and the Health Minister to address their concerns.

“The simple fact of the matter is the psychiatric unit at the hospital is seriously overcrowded and there are not enough frontline staff on the roster to ensure the safety of patients and workers.  Despite their repeated attempts to flag the issue with HSE management, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.  In the past 6 weeks, two suicidal patients have been turned away from UHG.

“The situation at UHG is the direct result of chronic mismanagement.  Following the closure of the state of the art facility in Ballinasloe, all in patient services were diverted to UHG, which is unable to cope with the additional demand on services.  This has resulted in unacceptable overcrowding levels, with seriously ill patients now being turned away from essential services.

“Time and time again, nurses and other frontline staff have appealed to management and Minister Varadkar to address the situation, but they have been consistently stonewalled.  Friday’s visit would have been the perfect opportunity for the Minister to see the situation for himself and to sit down with staff to discuss their concerns.  However, in true Minister Varadkar style, he has taken a hands-off approach to this situation while it continues to worsen.  This is completely unacceptable and the Minister needs to explain this decision to the patients, staff and wider community who rely on a safe and reliable service at University Hospital Galway”.