Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Oireachtas Update April 29
The Housing Bill 2013 will be discussed at second stage in the Dáil. The second stage discussion of the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) (Amendment) Bill 2012 will be resumed on Wednesday.  The main provisions of this Bill are to extend the remit of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to enable it to fund applied research in addition to its existing remit to fund oriented basic research.  Nessa Childers, MEP will attend a meeting in the Seanad this week to consider EU Public Health legislation and the challenges for transparency in decision making and a role for the Seanad in scrutinising EU policy. 

Interim CEO appointed to Digital Hub Development Agency
Edel Flynn has been appointed as the interim CEO of the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA), with immediate effect following the retirement of Philip Flynn. Ms Flynn has served as chief operations officer with the DHDA for over six years.  As part of the Governments programme for public service reform, the DHDA is to merge into Dublin City Council during 2013. Ms Flynn, in her capacity as interim CEO, will oversee this process. city.

Ø       Dáil
Wednesday May 1 & Thursday May 2
Industrial Development (Science Foundation
Ireland) (Amendment) Bill 2012 (Seanad)
Second Stage Resumed (Department of Jobs
Enterprise and Innovation).  With Second stage to be discussed on Thursday 2.

Ø       Seanad
Wednesday May 1
“EU Public Health legislation - the challenges for
transparency in decision making and a role for the
Seanad in scrutinising EU policy”
Address to Seanad Éireann by Nessa Childers, MEP

Ø       Committees
Thursday May 2
Health and Children
Committee Room 2, Leinster House
AGENDA: Private Meeting

Ireland's 1st suicide resource centre opens; National suicide prevention and bereavement charity Console opened Ireland’s first suicide resource centre in Tralee on Monday 29th April.
The Console Centre in Tralee will provide a broad range of community-based supports, services and resources for those affected by, or at risk of suicide. The facility is based at the McAuley Centre, Balloonagh, Tralee, which was acquired by the charity from the Sisters of Mercy and refurbished and redeveloped with financial assistance from Kerry Group
Over the coming months, the charity hopes to introduce a range of services at the centre including:
-Professional suicide bereavement counseling for individuals, families and children. This will be free of charge
-Peer suicide bereavement support groups
-Suicide crisis advice and referral support for anyone supporting a loved one in crisis
-Suicide prevention and bereavement training for professionals.
Mr Paul Kelly, CEO and founder of Console said Console was delighted to open the new centre in Tralee, as this will provide a ‘vital service' to the people of Kerry. The latest statistics available show that in 2011, 26 people died by suicide in Kerry and almost 300 people presented to emergency departments (EDs) following incidents of deliberate self-harm.
"Every suicide is such a devastating loss but it is important to highlight that there are many helpful services and resources that can help. In the case of suicide, the time around the inquest can be a particularly traumatic period for the bereaved families. We know in our own work that extra support or information is usually needed around this time," Mr Kelly explained.
The helpline number is 1800 201 890 or more information is available at http://console.ie/
Agreement at the Cabinet meeting today on the heads of bill for new abortion legislation is expected: The Protection of Maternal Life Bill is will provide for a panel of three specialist doctors to assess whether a termination is necessary in cases of suicide risk, with the right of appeal following this to other medical experts.  This is in line with proposals made in the Expert Group report on options for abortion legislation presented to the Government late last year.
In a medical emergency in cases where a mother's life is in danger, one doctor will be allowed to make a decision on whether to terminate a pregnancy. Again, this is in line with the Expert Group report options.

Supreme Court rejects the Fleming Case; The right to Life under the legislation does not import a right to die.  The Supreme Court ruled yesterday against terminally ill Marie Fleming in her action to over turn the blanket ban on assisted suicide, finding that there was no constitutional right to suicide or to arrange for the termination of one’s own life at a time of one’s choosing.  The Chief Justice noted that although suicide had been decriminalised it did not establish a constitutional right to take one’s life.  Her partner is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Friday, 26 April 2013

New Autism Evidence Update from NICE

Evidence Update on Autism diagnosis in children and young people has been published.

NICE Evidence Updates help to reduce the need for individuals, managers and commissioners to search for new evidence, and keep health and social care professionals up-to-date with new research. While Evidence Updates do not replace current accredited guidance and do not provide formal recommendations, they do highlight new evidence that health and social care professionals may wish to consider alongside current guidance.An Evidence Update Advisory Group, comprised of topic experts, reviewed the prioritised evidence and provided a commentary.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Oireachtas News 22 April 2013
In the Dáil this week, the Companies Bill 2012 will be discussed at second stage.  In the Seanad, Pat the Cope Gallagher, MEP will deliver an address on ongoing reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. At Committee this week, the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee will meet with representatives from the Irish Fiscal Council to discuss their recently launched Fiscal Assessment Report.  

The Health Sub Committee will meet to discuss the Health Service Executive whihc will take place on Wednesday 24th April.  The Health & Children Committee will discuss Organ Donation in Ireland from a Medical Perspective on Thursday 25th April Session A: 9:30 - 11.30am.  This will be attended by Professor David Hickey, Consultant Transplant Surgeon, Professor Peter Conlon, Consultant, Nephrologist and Dr James O’Rourke, Beaumont Hospital; Dr Colman O’Loughlin, Consultant, Mater Hospital; Dr Ruairi Dwyer, Intensive Care Society of Ireland; Dr Liam Plant, National Director of Renal Office, Cork University Hospital; Dr Brian O’Brien, President Intensive Care Society of Ireland, Cork University Hospital; Mr JP McDowell, Partner, McDowell Purcell Solicitors.
A second session discussing Organ Donation from a Policy perspective will take place on the same day Session B: 11.45am - 13.45pm.  This will be attended by Ms Mary Jackson, Principal Officer, Department of Health; Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan, Special Advisor, Department of Health; Professor Jim Egan, Director of Transplantation; Dr Paddy Costello, Irish Medicines Board

First Chair of new Child and Family Agency appointed The Government has appointed Ms Norah Gibbons as the Chairperson of the board of the new the ‘Child & Family Agency’.  Nora Gibbons has worked in the area of social work both in the UK and Ireland.  She was Director of Advocacy of Barnardos from 2005 to 2012, she was a member of the Commission to Inquire into Child abuse, (which produced the Ryan Report), she chaired the Roscommon Child Abuse Inquiry in 2009; and co-chaired the Independent Child Death Review Group, with Dr Geoffrey Shannon, from 2011 to 2012.  She is a member of Acknowledge Forum of Historical Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland since 2012 and was formerly the Chairperson of the board of Action Alcohol Ireland and served on the Taskforce on the Establishment of the Child & Family Agency.

Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, welcomed the appointment of Ms Gibbons stating: “The new Agency represents the single greatest transformation in children and family services in the history of the state. I am delighted the board of the new Agency will be led by Norah Gibbons, a true champion for reform of children’s services and one of Ireland’s leading advocates for children.” Work is underway on the establishment of the Child and Family Agency with legislation expected to be published shortly.

Major immunisation awareness campaign A campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of immunisation was launched on Monday 22nd April by the Health Minister James Reilly.

"Prevention is a key goal in healthcare, and the ability of vaccines to prevent illness and death associated with many serious diseases is one of the success stories of scientific innovation," he said.  The campaign, supported by the HSE, highlights the importance of childhood vaccinations in preventing serious illness. The HSE has stressed that parents and carers need to remember that children need to complete the full course of immunisations on the schedule to ensure they are adequately protected.
"Getting these diseases presents a much greater risk than the minor side effects from immunisation. We often forget how serious these are - thanks largely to vaccines- because we don't see then nearly as much as we used to," said Dr Brenda Corcoran of the HSE National Immunisation Office.  She stressed that the conditions which vaccination protects against, such as measles, can cause serious illness and death. There is currently a major measles outbreak in the UK
.  "Immunisation is one of the most important things you can do for your child. By vaccinating, you help protect your child from getting diseases that can cause both minor and major illness," said Prof Denis Gill, Chairman of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Oireachtas News 15 April 2013
The Dáil resumes this week after the Easter break where the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) (Amendment) Bill 2012 (Seanad) will go to second stage.  The purpose of the Bill is to extend the remit of Science Foundation Ireland to enable it to fund applied research in addition to its existing remit to fund oriented basic research.  Oriented basic research is defined as research that is ‘‘carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge likely to form the basis of the solution to recognised or expected current or future problems or possibilities’’.  Applied research on the other hand is research directed primarily towards a specific practical aim or objective.

This Bill coincides with a new appointment to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) of Mr Liam Madden, Corporate Vice President of engineering at Xilinx, an American technology company.

On Wednesday 17th April in the Seanad the Public Health (Tobacco) (Amendment) Bill 2013 – Second Stage will be discussed led by  spokesperson Senator Colm Burke.

On Thursday 18th April the Health and Children Committee will meet to discuss Personal and Advocacy Perspectives of Organ Donation.  The meeting will include representation from the Irish Kidney Association, Irish Heart and Lung Transplant Association and the National Organ Procurement Service (NOPS).
UK Measels Outbreak
The recent outbreak of measles in the UK has led to a surge of interest in vaccination.  Mr. Maurice Kelly of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has warned that ‘measles outbreaks in any country to which there is substantial travel back and forth between Ireland is a concern'.  There is a significant outbreak in Swansea in Wales with health officials working around the clock to get as many people immunised as possible.  Children can be immunised against the disease via the MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine.  The MMR vaccine is given twice at 12 months and again at four-to-five years. The latest figures from the HPSC show that uptake in Ireland for the first vaccine is approximately 92%, while uptake at four-to five years of age is approximately 84%.  Mr Kelly of the HPSC reminded parents that the vaccination is provided free of charge to all children.  Children who have missed vaccines can avail of the vaccine from their GP or the HSE depending on the age of the child.

Bicycle Helmet Wearing in a Sample of Urban Disadvantaged Primary School Children
Authors (Quirke et al)  of a new study published in the Irish Medical Journal have reported that there are 7 deaths and 263 hospital admissions among cyclists involved in RTAs. Children under 15 years are at greatest risk. In this study the authors found that helmet wearing was not common practice and 50% of children didn’t wear a helmet. Two thirds of 12/13 year olds never wore a helmet. There was a gender difference, 61% of girls wore a helmet but only 39% of boys.
The authors say the findings of the study add to the debate around the mandatory introduction of protective headgear for cyclists.  However they also advocate further research to establish how parental-perceived awareness and acceptance of legally enforced versus voluntary practices, affects their children’s overall awareness and adherence to cycle safety.  At present, the wearing of cycle helmets is not legally enforced in Ireland.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

European Data Forum comes to Dublin

The European Data Forum (EDF) 2013 is taking place today in Dublin, Ireland in the Croke Park Conference Centre.  The EDF2013  is supported by the European Commission as well as by the Digital Repository of Ireland (http://www.dri.ie/), STI International (http://www.sti2.org/) and DERI, NUI Galway (http://www.deri.ie/).  EDF2013 is an associated event of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU (http://www.eu2013.ie/). 
Big Data has implications for healthcare as major producers of data.  This conference brings together industry experts and policy makers from across the EU.  Follow the conversation on Twitter  #EDF_13 and follow @EUDataForum

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Oireachtas News 8th April 2013
The Dáil has been adjourned until Tuesday, April 16 2013. The Seanad has been adjourned until Wednesday, April 17 2013.

Appointment to the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland
The Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD, has called for expressions of interest for the Council of Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI).  This initiative is an effort to widen the opportunity for board membership of State Bodies.   Chosen council members will be appointed member to the Council of Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) after May 25 2013 when the term of office of 5 Council members (non pharmacist) appointed by the Minister under Section 10(3) (d) and (e) of the Pharmacy Act 2007 will be terminated.

Those interested should register an Expression of Interest through the Public Appointments Service at www.publicjobs.ie no later than Thursday April 18 2013.  Potential candidates cannot be or ever have been registered as a pharmacist, pharmaceutical chemist, dispensing chemist and druggist either in Ireland or any other country.  The PSI is an independent statutory body, established by the Pharmacy Act 2007.  It is charged with the effective regulation of pharmacy services in Ireland, including responsibility for supervising compliance with the Act.

1,300 on overcrowded wards in 4 weeks
The INMO have initiated the monitoring of overcrowding in wards at Irish hospitals The new initiative, Ward Watch, has noted that every day over the last month, an average of 79 patients have been placed in ‘overcrowded environments on inpatient wards in hospitals across the country'.
Ward Watch counts the number of additional patients on beds, trolleys or chairs in inpatient wards nationwide if those patients exceed the stated compliment of that ward. This initiative in addition to the INMO's long standing Trolley Watch, which shows how many patients are waiting on trolleys in emergency departments (EDs) at the beginning of each day will provide a ‘new combined overall measure of hospital overcrowding'.
The INMO are launching this measure due to continual feedback from nurses and midwives that patients were being placed in inappropriate environments. This, they said, increased the risk of cross infection and therefore compromised patient care. It also leads to a loss of privacy and dignity for patients.
The INMO has been compiling these figures for some weeks now and found that in the four weeks since March 11, a total of 1,347 patients were placed on beds and trolleys in already full inpatient wards.

Poor air quality kills thousands annually
An Taisce claim , that As many as 3,400 people die prematurely every year in Ireland as a result of poor air quality and have identified traffic is the ‘main culprit' and Ireland must work harder to reduce pollutants from diesel motor vehicles.

High levels of air pollution lead to high levels of respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis. This problem also takes a big financial toll on the country, with poor air quality costing the economy around €6.3 billion every year through direct healthcare costs and absenteeism from work and education. An Taisce has written to the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, and the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, asking them to work to try to reform EU laws on air pollution.  An Taisce have noted that this is not just a problem in Ireland but is Europe-wide, with some 420,000 premature deaths can be blamed on poor air quality, costing around €790 billion annually.

An Taisce have called on Ministers Reilly and Hogan to use Ireland's EU presidency to attempt to deliver better air quality in Europe.  The organisation noted that while progress has been made in Ireland, the country is still in breach of EU laws relating to traffic-induced nitrogen oxides, which are thought to contribute to the development of respiratory conditions.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Oireachtas News 1st April 2013
Due to Easter holidays the Dáil has been adjourned until Tuesday, April 16 2013 and the Seanad until Wednesday, April 17 2013.  However the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee will meet Thursday 4th April to discuss the framework for the recovery and resolution of credit institutions and investment firms in the European Union. 

The Residential Institutions Statutory Fund has been established and members appointed to the board.  This is a new body established under the provisions of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 with the task of overseeing the use of the cash contributions of up to €110m pledged by the religious congregations to support the needs of some 15,000 survivors of residential institutional child abuse.  Mary Higgins formerly the Director of the Homeless Agency and the earlier Homeless Initiative has been appointed CEO.  Sylda Langford former Director General of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and was an Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Justice and Law Reform has been appointed as Chairperson to the Board.