Physiotherapists to ballot on industrial action in Galway

Clinic use to ease trolley crisis will ‘create another crisis’, staff warn

University Hospital Galway: the hospital group said a temporary 30-bed ward would involve relocating the physiotherapy and social work departments. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

University Hospital Galway: the hospital group said a temporary 30-bed ward would involve relocating the physiotherapy and social work departments. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

Physiotherapists at University Hospital Galway (UHG) are due to ballot on industrial action in protest over the use of their dedicated clinic space to ease overcrowding in the emergency department. The physiotherapists have been asked to surrender their purpose-built clinic and move into a work space one-third of the size of their current area.

Hospital management is “creating another crisis” in trying to provide a short-term solution to the trolley crisis, they warned, adding that they could be forced to choose between patients. This will directly affect the numbers of patients being discharged home and, by extension, the numbers of vacant beds for patients on trolleys, they said.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, who visited Galway last week, promised to deal with the worst overcrowding in emergency departments and said UHG would be allocated an extra 30 beds.

The Saolta hospital group in Galway confirmed yesterday that a temporary 30-bed ward was “an urgent requirement, given the sustained high level of patients spending long periods of time on trolleys awaiting admission to the hospital, which is unacceptable”. It confirmed that this would involve relocating the physiotherapy and social work departments and said it regretted the “temporary disruption” that “relocation may cause any service”. A 75-bed block is currently under construction at the hospital, it said.

Last autumn, UHG acknowledged that some patients attending the emergency department experienced a lack of privacy and dignity, after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation held a lunchtime protest.

In a related development, Saolta has confirmed that nearly 6,000 people who were on public hospital waiting lists have been contacted and offered appointments in private hospitals.

The move is part of a national effort by the HSE to move off public lists people who have been waiting longer than 18 months to be seen by a doctor.

Some 2,370 people on the Galway University Hospital group waiting list have been contacted, along with 680 with Mayo General Hospital; 200 with Roscommon; 22 with Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, Co Galway; 1,900 with Letterkenny General Hospital, and 770 with Sligo Regional Hospital.