Everyone knows University Hospital Galway requires major investment.
On the campaign trail with Galway West TD Derek Nolan on Thursday, Labour leader Joan Burton said what everyone already knows about our underfunded, under-resourced, under pressure regional hospital.
“The principle way, in my view, of reducing the pressure on A&Es is to actually develop primary care in the community,” said the Social Protection Minister, speaking in the House Hotel following a quick lap around the city, during which she visited GTI and Druid.
In a bid to tackle the growing overcrowding crisis, the Minister outlined that the outgoing Government has built an additional 60 primary care centres around the country, with another 80 in the pipeline.
Placing a focus on community care will see specially trained GPs and nurses provide care to, for instance, diabetes patients who would otherwise have to go to their local regional hospital. This new approach is key to reducing pressure on the hospital system, according to Minister Burton.
She added that the new centres also have areas dedicated to mental health, where patients can receive the care and attention they need without setting foot in the ED.
So too for older people, currently spending hours and days on trolleys in EDs, with the Dublin TD recalling looking after her two bachelor uncles until their deaths, and stressing that taking older patients out of EDs is vitally important.
“I think we can do that with leadership and the co-operation of staff,” she said.
“In relation to Galway University Hospital, I think everyone knows that it requires major investment,” she added, with Galway West TD Derek Nolan stating that a new ED for the hospital is his “single top priority”.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
With the polls putting support for Labour on between 4-6%, it’s a long way from those heady days back in 2011 when then-leader Éamon Gilmore and entourage joined Deputy Nolan – now apparently fighting for the final seat – on the city’s streets.
But, said Minister Burton, “The actual reception for the Labour Party has improved as the election has gone on.” The election got off to a slow start for everyone, but “at the moment people are beginning to focus on the big question – what’s the consequences of my vote for the future?”
Labour, said Minster Burton, are very orientated towards the future, with the party’s election manifesto at its core aiming to make life better for working families.
“I would be the first to acknowledge not everyone has gone through recovery. My brother lives in Headford and I get very detailed reports on how much job creation or not there is in a place like Headford.”
Among the party’s stated aims is to improve minimum wage over time, and reduce USC for people earning up to €72,000.
The Government has reduced it over past 2 years to “modest degree”, she said, and Labour is proposing to continue that over the five years of the next government – if the party is part of that government.
It would be done in a “modest and careful” way, said Minister Burton – for every one euro in tax reduction, three euro would be spent on services.
“These are our priorities, these are our commitments, but if for instance the economy changes dramatically because of world events, well then we will look at it again and it’s possible that some of it might take a slightly longer time,” said the Minister, adding she is an accountant by profession.