GPs drafted in to treat Galway hospital patients

University Hospital Galway admits emergency department building is not suitable

A shortage of senior consultants has forced University Hospital Galway to employ family doctors to assess and treat patients in its emergency department.

The hospital says it hired GPs to act as senior decision-makers in the department while it tries to recruit full-time and part-time consultants.

Responding to a report which described conditions in the department as “nothing short of scandalous”, the hospital acknowledged the building in which emergency patients are treated is not suitable and requires replacement.

A University Hospital Galway spokesman said the hospital was not in a position to comment on the report, which found that nursing staff feel disempowered and frustrated and said “nobody is in charge” at a departmental or corporate level.



The report was a draft and had yet to go through a factual accuracy-checking process, he added.

Since it was commissioned, there has been a substantial increase in staff in the emergency department and an additional ward has been opened to cater for surges in the number of patients attending, the spokesman said.

The report described the physical environment of the department as “shocking and disturbing”.

“The reviewers found the sight of numerous sick and vulnerable patients lying in trolleys in full view of the public as nothing short of scandalous. The overcrowding and congestion make the environment completely unfit for purpose,” it says. “Patients are crammed together within touching distance of each other for the most part, with little or no privacy.”

There is just one toilet and patients, especially older ones, find themselves in an environment that is “dehumanising and degrading”.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.