based at Merlin Park Hospital could "radically cut waiting times for patients" and "greatly relieve pressure" on the Emergency Department at University Hospital Galway.
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who raised the issue during Leaders Questions in the Dáil yesterday.
He said the establishment of such a unit was a "no brainer" which would be able to "see and treat patients in less than an hour".
Statistics for the Emergency Department at UHG show that "barely more than a quarter of the people who present themselves at the ED" end up being admitted to hospital for further treatment or examination, Dep Grealish said.
He added that this indicated the majority of people coming to the ED could be catered for at a minor injuries unit, "at a fraction of the time and stress they incur now".
The Carnmore TD pointed out how more than 60,000 people each year presenting at the Emergency Department, and that "staff are overworked, trying to do their best in almost impossible conditions", working in a unit which is universally accepted as being "cramped, dilapidated, and not fit for purpose", where "patients face waits of hours on end to be seen and treated".
Roscommon has a purpose-built urgent care centre, or minor injuries unit, where it takes less than an hour, just 55 minutes currently, for a person to be seen, treated, and discharged. “Like the 10 other similar injury units throughout the country, it can handle everything from broken bones, sprains and strains, to minor scalds and burns," said Dep Grealish, "and are open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, and treated more than 6,100 patients last year."
Dep Grealish said there were plans for a new Emergency Department at UHG, but with the region’s population predicted to grow, there was always likely to be a certain pressure of numbers on any new facility. Until that is built, the "obvious solution" to the current problem was to build a minor injuries unit at Merlin Park Hospital, where there are "acres of space, and easier access from almost anywhere in Galway".