Physios in fear for patients over plans to move unit to old facility on far side of city
Physiotherapists working in a state-of-the-art department at Galway hospital have hit out at plans to move them to out-of-date facilities on the far side of the city.
Staff in the physiotherapy and social work departments at University Hospital Galway were informed of plans to move their departments in order to free up space for the overcrowded Emergency Department.
While social workers are facing a move to a prefab on hospital grounds, the physiotherapy department, which was purpose-built in the hospital, could be moved across the city to Merlin Park. Staff at the unit, which caters for 750 acute patients and 1,400 out-patients every month and has a specialist gym to help recovery, say the move will have a detrimental impact on patients and will cause a delay in discharging hospital patients.
While the acute patients would be treated in a smaller section in the hospital, out-patients would have to travel across the city to Merlin Park for treatment.
Padraig Mulligan of trade union Impact said physiotherapists and social workers are very concerned about the possible move and the effect it could have on patients.
"We intend to ballot our members on this. It's very serious and if this goes ahead, it's a move back 25 years," he warned.
The move will affect patients recovering from heart attacks, cancer, strokes, and also adults with cystic fibrosis.
Patients who have appointments with consultants in the hospital will now have to get a bus across the city to Merlin Park for their physiotherapy appointment.
"These patients are already travelling from as far away as Donegal for maybe chemotherapy or radiotherapy," said Mr Mulligan.
"They have already had a very long journey and now we expect them to get back on the road and travel across the city.
"We have an isolation room for cystic fibrosis adults which is vital but we're now talking about moving them out to an old building in Merlin Park as well. Physiotherapists are very concerned about this, they are worried about the impact on patients."
Physiotherapists also fear the move will cause a backlog in discharging patients.
"Most physios have both out-patients and in-patients and they are going to be travelling back and forth. The referral time right now is excellent," said Mr Mulligan. "In-patients are seen on the day of referral or the day after, but with this move, staff won't just be on hand to see in patients as needed. They fear that this will result in delays in treating in-patients and that will have a massive impact on recovery."
Concerns have also been raised about the possible move of the social work department to a prefab on the grounds of University Hospital Galway.
"They are basically being moved out to the middle of the carpark.
"These moves are short-sighted and staff fear they will cause serious problems," added Mr Mulligan.