New overcrowding initiatives for UHG

University Hospital Galway is one of eight public hospitals responsible for almost 60 per cent of the country’s trolley waiting problem.

Now a number of new initiatives aimed at alleviating overcrowding at its emergency department and reducing the number of people on inpatient waiting lists are to be introduced at the HSE West run city facility.

The €350,000 proposals will see an extension of operating hours for the medical assessment unit - from 12 to 24 per day - while a new eight-bed unit will open five days a week until the end of the year. Two weeks’ convalescence care will be provided at an off-site facility for up to six patients per week until the end of the year in an effort to free up inpatient beds at the hospital which will reduce waiting lists. Enhanced interim care packages will also be introduced.

The measures have been welcomed by Galway West TD Brian Walsh and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames.

Deputy Walsh says this “decisive” action should have an immediate impact on waiting times and overcrowding at the city hospital.

“I have worked closely with Minister Reilly since the election to highlight and source definitive solutions to the problems at UHG and the challenges faced by its frontline staff.

“The Government has a long-term vision of reform of the healthcare system but initiatives such as these recognise the need for immediate action also, and should have an immediate impact on the difficulties experienced by patients and staff at the hospital.”

He stated these measures were made possible by the setting up of the special delivery unit in July by Minister Reilly to tackle the problems at acute hospitals such as UHG.

Senator Healy Eames said the introduction of these supports depends on the implementation of the HSE’s acute medicine programme, ensuring the hospital has seven day discharge rounds, and that additional capacity, funded by this initiative, is not offset by reductions elsewhere.

“The special delivery unit is on track to achieve its objective that nobody is waiting more than a year for in-patient treatment. An additional 4,000 people are to be treated by the end of the year.

“The SDU is now focused on reducing the number of people on trolleys, particularly ahead of the busy winter season.

“It has access to the budget initially provided to the National Treatment Purchase Fund [an initiative introduced by the former government to cut public hospital waiting lists by buying treatment for patients in private hospitals]. The SDU has been engaged with the HSE and hospital management to analyse the causes of the problem and how it can be alleviated.”

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