New emergency department at UHG may not open until 2024

A former county mayor and sitting councillor has voiced concern that it could be 2024 before patients can avail of a new emergency department at the west’s biggest hospital.

Cllr Mary Hoade highlighted the delay in providing the new ED at University Hospital Galway at a meeting of the HSE West’s regional health forum on Tuesday at Merlin Park Hospital.

She inquired if stage one of the design process for the new department was complete yet and when would the health authority be in a position to lodge a planning application.

She told the meeting that the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated in 2015 that the current ED was not fit for purpose and that staff were working under extraordinary conditions. She said it was now March 2019 and she was keen to find out what progress had been made in relation to the new development. “I am talking about four years, not four months”.

She stated that she had been raising concerns about the current ED for 70 per cent of the forum meetings she had attended as a local representative. The seven per cent increase in attendance rates and five to six per cent rise in admissions at the facility bore out the urgent nature of replacing it, she believed.

In reply, Joe Hoare, the assistant national director of the HSE West’s estates, outlined that stage one of the design process for the proposed new block, including a new ED department at UHG, is nearing completion. It is anticipated that it will be completed within the next few weeks.

“An overall project budget will be determined based on the Stage 1 report and the project scope as defined therein. Initial discussions have taken place with Galway City Council in regard to the proposed development. In terms of planning, the HSE will be engaging with An Bord Pleanala in respect of a determination regarding whether or not the planning application for the new block will proceed by way of the strategic infrastructure development process or otherwise.”

He outlined that this was a “very significant” project and a substantial amount of work had been done so far. He predicted it would be 2022/23 when the facility would be built. He said he appreciated that everybody was frustrated but a project such as this takes a lot of time.

Cllr Hoade said she hoped what he said was correct. “My concern is that it will be 2024 before any of the people presenting to the emergency department can see a new ED.”

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