A full capacity protocol was issued on Monday in University Hospital Galway, after the number of patients on trolleys in the Emergency Department increased by 209 per cent over the weekend.
This news followed rumours surrounding of the closure of the ED in Portiuncula, which Health Minister Simon Harris later denied, without having seen the final report, but admitted that systemic changes were needed with regard to trauma services.
And as the pressure increases on Galway’s healthcare services, and the demand continues to grow exponentially, Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív has claimed that the crisis at UHG has completely fallen off the Government’s agenda.
“The situation at UHG is almost unbelievable. Despite a series of promises before, during, and after the General Election about how health was a top priority for Fine Gael, the service is now infinitely worse than it was this time last year,” said the Galway West TD.
“In fact, waiting lists for in-patients at UHG are now the worst in the country.”
There are currently 11,413 in-patients in UHG awaiting treatment, which is by far the worst nationwide.
The Mater Hospital, Dublin, has the second longest waiting list for in-patient treatments, but it remains almost half at 6,655 patients.
The waiting list in UHG is almost three times the number of patients waiting for treatments in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, and Tallagh Children’s Hospital combined.
Of all the hospitals under the Saolta Group, of which there are six, the in-patients at UHG account for 60 per cent of the total who are currently on waiting lists.
“Staff and patients at the hospital are extremely frustrated,” added Ó Cuív.
“Services are deteriorating, and the Government is sitting on its hands. Fianna Fáil has consistently called for the restoration of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to tackle waiting lists, it has a proven track record and was a key element of our health policy before the election.
“Investment in the NTPF was one of the commitments we secured, as part of the confidence and supply agreement, to facilitate a minority Government.
“Minister Harris needs to act without delay to ensure that that the fund is re-established as a matter of priority.”
The NTPF also reported that almost 1,100 in-patients have been waiting on treatments at UHG in excess of 18 months.
An additional 3,231 patients have been waiting up to a year to receive treatment, meaning there are more in-patients waiting one year or more in UHG, than the total on waiting lists at University Hospital Limerick, Cork University Hospital, and Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore.
“There is barely a week that passes whereby some new scandal is revealed. The ED is chaotic, over 5,500 procedures were cancelled last year, there are issues with vacant posts, and services are suffering,” said Ó Cuív.
“These waiting lists cannot be allowed to grow at this rate. It is simply unsustainable. The Government needs to wake up to the crisis that is in front of it, and put the measures in place to effectively deal with it.”
“UHG is under severe pressure.”