No plans to use prefabs at UHG to tackle overcrowding, says Naughton

There are no plans to use prefabs at University Hospital Galway (UHG ) as a short-term response to the overcrowding crisis, FG deputy Hildegarde Naughton said last evening.

Health Minister Simon Harris said last week that temporary prefab accommodation could be used by hospitals to “break the cycle of overcrowding”. It is understood that hospitals in Mayo and Tipperary are among those availing of the plan.

However, there are no proposals for the use of temporary accommodation at UHG.

Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton, who is a member of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare, said restrictions on the UHG site meant that the use of prefabs was not an option.

“This is yet another reminder that the healthcare needs of our population have outgrown the capacity of the UHG site to cater for those needs,” said Deputy Naughton.

“There is no scope for additional development on the campus due to planning and spatial restrictions. We are already at a stage that opening new hospital accommodation requires that we close existing wards.

“UHG was built as an acute hospital facility for Galway. Its catchment area now includes Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon. Meanwhile, our population has aged and increased,” explained the Fine Gael TD.

Planning restrictions contained in the City Development Plan state that no additional bed spaces can be provided at UHG without a commensurate increase in car-parking capacity, which cannot be provided due to congestion on the site.

“The discussion surrounding the use of prefab accommodation by hospitals serves to highlight the fact that the UHG campus can no longer meet our healthcare needs, and a solution to our overcrowding crisis clearly lies elsewhere,” said Deputy Naughton.

The Galway West TD has led a campaign for a new hospital to be built on HSE-owned lands at Merlin Park since her election to the Dáil last year. The campaign has since won the support of hospital management and consultants.

Last week, Minister Simon Harris gave the go ahead to the Saolta University Healthcare Group to develop a strategy and vision for the development of new facilities at Merlin Park. A scoping exercise is currently underway as the first step in this process.

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