Work to begin on major new ward development at UHG in next few months

Construction is to begin within the next few months on a new ward block development at University Hospital Galway. The facility will comprise 75 single rooms.

That is according to management from the West/North West Hospitals Group who met with public representatives from Galway and Roscommon recently to provide an update on progress within the group since their last meeting in January.

The ward will be located over three floors. The new building will be situated between the maternity wing and block 2a and will integrate into the existing hospital clinical environment. The new accommodation will comply with HIQA standards and best practice in relation to improved infection prevention and control.

The new facility will help to address current infrastructural and capacity issues at UHG. The development will replace one ward which will be demolished to facilitate the new building. In addition, one of the existing medical wards will be moved to the new development and the remaining beds will be used to manage peaks in activity, for example in the winter months when there is an increase in admissions from patients presenting to the emergency department. The remaining beds will also be used to relocate patients to facilitate maintenance on other wards and areas of the hospital.

Work will begin on the initiative at the end of this year with a building schedule of about 12 months. The new wards will be commissioned in 2015. Hospital management says the ultimate aim of the new development is to “improve the patient journey through our hospital”.

A major project is also about to commence to build new radiation oncology facilities, housing three new radiotherapy machines, on the UHG site as part of the National Programme for Radiation Oncology.

A new ward block is planned for Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe as well. This will involve 50 single bedrooms, while the hospital’s endoscopy unit will be upgraded.

Bill Maher, the chief executive of the West/North West Hospitals Group and Tony Canavan, the group chief operating officer, went on to outline the significant recent changes in the group structure.

Mr Maher advised the public representatives that, in July, the group - then incorporating Galway University Hospitals, Portiuncula and Roscommon Hospitals - was enlarged and took on responsibility for Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny General Hospitals.

“This meant more than doubling the managed bed capacity (from 830 to 1,770 ) and increasing staff numbers from 3,940 to 7,620.

“The expansion is being built on the existing governance structures at the heart of which is the Clinical Governance Structure, and the integration of the new group, including the creation of synergies across functions, is a priority for the months ahead.”

Priorities for 2013 remain the improvement of access to services for patients. He said this means working on admission times from the emergency departments and maintaining the inpatients waiting time targets (which includes a reduction to eight months wait time for adults ).

It also includes meeting outpatient waiting time targets so that patients will not have to wait longer than 12 months by the end of November.

“This figure had been reduced from 43,576 in January to 17,319 by the end August and we are on schedule that by year-end no outpatient will be waiting longer than 12 months.

He explained as of the end of July the group had a €17.5m deficit representing overall expenditure of €370.2m against a budget of €352.7m. Local and nationally driven cost containment measures are being taken and it is hoped to achieve financial break-even by the end of the year.

The meeting was also told that the numbers of patients on trolleys awaiting admission from the emergency department at UHG has been consistently lower month on month from 2012 to July 2013.

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