"Effective discrimination against the people of Galway" is the explanation being put forward by TD Noel Grealish for Galway being the only city in the State without a dedicated minor injuries unit.
The lack of a dedicated unit for minor injuries, where people can be seen, treated, and discharged within a single hour, is in contrast to Dublin, Limerick and Cork, each of which has a dedicated minor injury unit. There are 11 in all across the Republic of Ireland.
According to Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, the absence of such a unit in Galway is resulting in overcrowding and long delays in the A&E Department in UGH. Indeed, figures released to Dep Grealish by the HSE show patients with a minor injury face a wait of five hours and 35 minutes on average from registration to discharge in first four months of 2018.
'You could say Galway is being discriminated against in this regard as it’s the only city without a dedicated minor injuries unit'
As a result, he is calling for the establishment of such a unit at Merlin Park Hospital, and argues that it would be relatively inexpensive to establish, and would also take ease pressure of UHG's A&E department. “The difference it would make to the Emergency Department at UHG would be enormous," he said. "I recently visited the injury unit in Roscommon, where it takes an average of just 55 minutes from the time a patient comes in the door until they leave, having been treated."
He said planning and construction of such a unit needed to start now, as the proposed new Galway hospital, which will include a new emergency department, is not due to be completed until 2023. This means "several years of putting up with the present situation".
Dep Grealish pointed out that between January and the end of June, 3,800 patients were on trolleys or chairs at UHG, up nine per cent on the same period last year. "These numbers are constantly increasing and I fear that come the winter we will have a real crisis on our hands," he said. "You could say Galway is being discriminated against in this regard as it’s the only city without a dedicated minor injuries unit. Such a unit could make a huge contribution to reducing the overcrowding problems at UHG."