Approval given for new ambulance base at Merlin Park hospital

Galway daily news Ambulance personnel to stage 24 strike next week

Planning approval has been given to the HSE for a long awaited ambualance base at Merlin Park Hospital with conditions attached.

The 613m² ambulance base will include a 129m² garage, two canopied parking bays, and  19 canopied spaces for emergency vehicles.

The two-storey base will also have offices, bathroom, shower, and laundry facilities as well as a kitchen and quiet room for Paramedics.

Plans were originally submitted for the new ambulance base at Merlin Park hospital back in April, but the city council ordered the HSE back to the drawing board in June.

The original plans submitted by the HSE contained 78 parking spaces, which city planner said was excessive, more than twice what was required for a development of that size.

The revised application submitted in July contains 25 parking spaces, not including spaces for ambulances and emergency 4×4 vehicles.

City Planners also objected to the uniform appearance of the base, calling it “a poor form of architectural quality” and asked the HSE to revise the building’s external appearance.

The HSE did not do so, instead justifying the design in their re-submitted application, saying that the base is essentially a large garage with offices and rest facilities for crews, and the design should reflect that “utilitarian” function.

“It is important to the HSE and National Ambulance Service that a consistent architectural is maintained across all their facilities and unnecessary flamboyance avoided.” The response read.

The council agreed to accept the design as it was subject to high quality “select brick” finishes to the outside of the building to be agreed with the planing authority before construction begins.

The HSE are also required to submit a landscaping plan to the planning authority with regards to the adjacent Merlin Woods before any works begin.

In all, the city council approved the new ambulance base with 13 conditions attached.

Ambulance services

Galway Ambulance Service had to move to “temporary” accommodation at Merlin Park in 2014 to make way for the construction of a multi-storey car park at UHG.

However, despite the fact that the move was only supposed to last for a few months, three and a half years later ambulance crews were still operating out of cramped and unclean facilities that were never built for long-term use.

Last year crew were forced to return to their former facilities at UHG, despite the fact the it left dozens of paramedics sharing a single shower.

Paramedics had long complained that the prefab was cramped, freezing in winters, and the water supply had tested positive for e.coli.

But the breaking point came last November, when a rat infestation was found in the prefab.

Now, if construction gets underway on the new ambulance base without any further difficulties in the planning process, there looks to be an end in sight for this embarrassing treatment of emergency workers.