New hospital CEO must sort out A&E and waiting lists says health forum head

The new chief executive to be appointed to Galway University Hospitals (UHG and Merlin Park ) must put ironing out the problems at UHG’s emergency department and dealing with extensive outpatient waiting lists top of his/her priorities, the chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum said this week.

Cllr Padraig Conneely was speaking after a week in which the number of patients on trolleys at A&E remained consistently high. There were 27 people waiting for beds on Tuesday (the second highest number in the country after Beaumont Hospital in Dublin ) 20 on Monday, 32 on Friday and 23 on Thursday.

He said the chief executive position, which was advertised in early May, is expected to be filled next month.

“A&E and out-patients are two pressing areas which demand attention. The recent HealthStat report [a HSE league table which rates hospitals’ performances] for June again gave a bad rating, the red light to A&E. Out-patients is not working either, the waiting list is not being cleared.

“The system has failed there, that’s why Galway is continually in the red zone area, being rated as the worst performing hospital. To the new CEO I’d say he/she must take the system by the scruff of the neck and make changes. It can’t continue the way it is. What’s needed is someone with a firm hand to pull the system togther.

“The indignity of people, especially the elderly, waiting on trolleys in A&E for hours on end must become a thing of the past. These people have paid their taxes, worked hard and reared their families. They deserve better. There are a consistently high number of people on trolleys, this is a black mark against the hospital and is a result of not enough junior doctors, nurses or beds.

“Equally, the extensive outpatient waiting lists are a major concern. People are in pain and suffering waiting to get in to hospital. People are at their wits end with these problems. When you do get into hospital you are well treated and looked after. One thing the hospital has is expert care as well as state-of-the-art facilities. It is recognised as a good hospital once you are in there.”

Cllr Conneely says he is inundated with telephone calls from people on waiting lists who “can’t” get into the hospital.

“I get calls most days from people, some are distraught. They are forever on waiting lists and do not know what to do or who to turn to. Another problem is getting out of the hospital. Some patients are due to go home but have to wait for ages to get signed out by a consultant. One man phoned me from his hospital bed saying he was ready to go home but had to wait to be discharged. He was two days waiting to go. He was dressed in his suit with his bag beside him but he couldn’t go out because the consultant had not come round to sign him out. He phoned me and said he was taking up a bed but could not leave. One the same day there were patients waiting on trolleys in A&E.”

Cllr Conneely is to contact the HSE West this week to find out when the new CEO will be appointed. “I will be contacting John Hennessy, the HSE West’s regional director of operations, to find out at what stage the whole process is at, have applications closed and when the appointment will be made.”

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