Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cycling to Work - Research

Cycling to work, cuts the risk of developing heart disease and cancer by almost half, research suggests.

Walking to work is also good for you, although it does not offer the same benefits as taking a bike, experts from the University of Glasgow found.
The new study on 264,337 people, 52% of whom were women, found cycling to work is linked to a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to driving to work or taking public transport.
Overall, cyclists had a 41% lower risk of premature death from any cause.

The study also found some health benefits if people cycled part of their journey
The study also found some health benefits,
if people cycled part of their journey

Walking to work was also associated with a 27% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36% lower risk of dying from it.
But there was no link with a lower risk of cancer or dying early from any cause in walkers, the study found.
People who preferred to stroll to work also had to walk for two hours a week in total to see health benefits, at an average speed of three miles per hour.
Experts behind the study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said the lower benefits seen for walking compared to cycling could be down to several factors.
These include the fact cyclists covered longer distances in their commutes than the walkers, cycling is a higher intensity exercise and cyclists were generally more fit.

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, from the University of Glasgow, said: "Walking to work was associated with lower risk of heart disease, but unlike cycling was not associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer or overall death.
"This may be because walkers commuted shorter distances than cyclists, typically six miles per week, compared with 30 miles per week, and walking is generally a lower intensity of exercise than cycling."
The study also found some health benefits if people cycled part of their journey and took public transport or drove the rest of the way.
The people taking part in the research were aged 52 on average at the start of the study and were followed for five years.
About 2,430 people died during the study period, with 496 deaths related to cardiovascular disease, which covers all diseases of the heart and circulation, and 1,126 deaths from cancer.
Overall, 3,748 people developed cancer over the five years, and 1,110 had an event related to cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

New National Maternity Hospital

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital has said that the agreement reached for locating the new maternity hospital at St Vincent’s is unequivocal, that the hospital will be entirely independent, and that that is written down in black and white.

Dr. Rhona Mahony said the ethos of the hospital will be clinical excellence and that contraception, IVF services, and abortions will be carried out when necessary.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr. Mahony stressed that nuns will not be involved in the operation or running of the hospital.
She said the fundamental principle during the mediation process for the National Maternity Hospital, currently based in Holles Street, was that it would retain its independence and autonomy.
It was important to locate the hospital on the St. Vincent’s campus, because they want patients to have access to wide range of services available there, Dr. Mahony added.

Dr Rhona Mahony said the ownership of the hospital is a technical detail
Dr. Rhona Mahony said the ownership of the hospital is a technical detail
The St Vincent's Healthcare Group, owned by the Sisters of Charity, will own the €300m building.
Dr. Mahony said the ownership is a technical detail.

She said that abortions will be carried out, without hesitation, if needed to save a woman's life.
Asked if a woman wants to be sterilised, out of personal need, Dr. Mahony said it will be done.
She said the new maternity hospital will not be practising in St Vincent’s Hospital, but on the campus. This, she said, was in the agreement and there is no doubt about this.

Pie in the Sky

IMO President Dr John Duddy said that in principle the idea of free GP care for all is a good one

The Irish Medical Organisation has said most doctors would see free GP care for all in five years as pie in the sky, unless it is properly costed.

Speaking at the union's annual conference in Galway, IMO President Dr John Duddy said it would be disappointing if the final report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare does not provide costings and the funding system on the proposal.
Dr Duddy said that in principle the idea of free GP care for all is a good one.
But who would pay for it was the big issue, whether through general taxation, a health levy, or an increase health insurance premiums.
Dr Duddy said the cost would certainly be a seven-figure sum.
Meanwhile, the IMO has said the talks on a new GP contract, which have started with the Government, will be a long process.
The union said it involves a complex change to a contract first established in 1970.
Dr Duddy said it would be nice to have a timescale for the negotiations, but they should not be limited either.
The union has today called for a major investment in the health system to end emergency department overcrowding and long waiting lists, especially given the rise in the population shown by recent census data.
Minister for Health Simon Harris will address the two-day conference tomorrow.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

European Immunisation Week

Vaccine complacency could cost lives in Ireland, as Europe sees large measles outbreaks, and related deaths.

Complacency in relation to vaccines could cause deaths in Ireland as large measles outbreaks and related deaths take place in Europe, warned the HSE today, Monday April 24th.
Many European countries are reporting measles outbreaks - over 4000 cases and 18 measles related deaths have been reported in Romania in the past six months, according to the Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Brenda Corcoran.

“Other countries with recent measles outbreaks include, Italy, France, Germany, Poland and Belgium. An outbreak involving 40 cases occurred in Ireland as recently as 2016.
“Measles is one of the most infectious diseases. It is spread by coughing and sneezing, and by close contact with an infected individual. With today’s travel patterns, no person or country is beyond the reach of the measles virus.

View image on Twitter
“The only protection against measles is the MMR vaccine. Two doses of MMR vaccine (at 12 months and 4-5 years of age) are required to be fully vaccinated. While uptake in Ireland has remained steady at around 92%, we need to increase uptake rates to the target of 95% to make sure that measles does not circulate here. This is important for everybody but is particularly vital to protect young babies as they cannot receive the MMR vaccine until they are 12 months old so they are vulnerable to complications, including death if they are exposed to measles infection.

“MMR vaccine along with many other vaccines saves lives and protects against serious illness. Due to good vaccine uptake, we have thankfully not seen outbreaks of other infectious diseases in Ireland that we witnessed in the past but we must not let complacency creep in. We have seen a recent fall in the uptake of HPV vaccine because of unsubstantiated safety concerns. This serves as a reminder that on-going efforts are required to reach and maintain high vaccine uptake levels. The theme for this year’s European Immunisation Week is “Vaccines Work” and we must continue to remind ourselves that vaccines are a simple, effective and safe way to save lives and prevent serious illness”, said Dr Corcoran.

For further information visit

Monday, 24 April 2017

Irish Medical Graduates

Irish medical students are predominantly from financially better-off families, and almost certainly will get a job in Ireland when they graduate or will pursue further study, a report from the Higher Education Authority says.

The HEA says there is a challenge to the higher education system and to the medical profession to do more to ensure greater diversity in medicine.
It finds that slightly more medical students are likely to be female.
Almost two thirds (64%) of non-Irish students come from Asia, with Malaysia (37%) forming the biggest cohort.

The study looked at all medicine students in the universities and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland during 2015/16
The study looked at all medicine students in the universities,
and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland - during 2015/16

Of the Irish graduates, 94% are employed in Ireland.
The study looked at all medicine students in the universities and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland during 2015/16 and then also surveyed graduates, nine months after they left college.

Friday, 21 April 2017

European Medicines Agency

The Netherlands has made a formal bid to become the new home of the European Medicines Agency which will likely have to relocate from London after Britain leaves the European Union.
"It is my pleasure to inform you of the Netherlands' candidacy to host the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Amsterdam," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a letter to EU president Donald Tusk.
Ireland has also expressed an interest in hosting the EMA in Dublin, while several other European cities are thought to be in the running to provide a new home for the EMA, including Barcelona and Copenhagen.

The agency and its 900 staff of pharmacists, biologists and doctors are tasked with researching and evaluating all new medicines to see if they are ready to be rolled out across the bloc
The agency and its 900 staff of pharmacists, biologists and doctors are tasked with researching and evaluating all new medicines, to see if they are ready to be rolled out across the European bloc

Amsterdam has "outstanding international travel connections and excellent working and living conditions," Mr Rutte said, adding it "meets all the requirements of the agency and its staff".
EU agencies like the EMA are meant to be located within the bloc, causing uncertainty for the agency currently based in London's Canary Wharf business district.
"The Netherlands will do everything in its power to facilitate a smooth and efficient transition from the UK to our country, in order to ensure full operational continuity both for the agency and the large number of scientific experts involved," Mr Rutte vowed.
He said "uncertainty about the move" was already affecting the agency's work and staff and he urged the European Council to "decide on the EMA's new location as swiftly as possible".

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said yesterday the "real political" negotiations on Brexit will start after Britain's snap June 8 elections.
He told reporters that both the EMA and the European Banking Authority "must be based in the territory of the European Union" once Brexit is complete.
The British government will have "no say" on the issue because it is not part of the Brexit negotiations, but "will have to ease the burden of relocating" staff to EU cities, he added.
Mr Rutte also took to Twitter to press his country's case saying on his official account: "I firmly believe that NL is best equipped to provide all conditions necessary to enable the EMA to perform its work as effectively as possible."
Since its creation in 1995, the agency has approved 1,100 medicines, including 82 last year.
Of those which gained approval in 2016, 17 were for treating cancer, 14 for infections, and nine for heart disease.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

An opinion poll suggests that half the country's adults have experienced the abuse of vulnerable adults, either through suffering abuse themselves or seeing somebody close to them abused.

The independent National Safeguarding Committee, which commissioned the research, has for stronger safeguarding laws and for the Government to progress the establishment of a service, already provided for in 2015 legislation, to support adults whose capacity for making decisions is in question.
The state-wide opinion poll, conducted by Red C last December, interviewed by phone a sample of 1,004 adults who were demographically representative of the rest of the Republic's over 18's.
Although 61% felt vulnerable adults are well protected here, 38% said they are badly treated.

Red C said this and other data suggests, the public perceives a problem around safeguarding people who have a limited capacity for self-protection.

Poll found uncertainty around what constitutes psychological and financial abuse

There was uncertainty around what constitutes psychological and financial abuse and one-in-three people did not know clearly that they should report concerns about vulnerable adult abuse to a health care professional or to an HSE Safeguarding and Protection Team.
The pollsters said that suggests more public education is required.
Half the respondents claimed to have experienced abuse directly or indirectly, with emotional abuse mentioned by one in three of them.
The same number witnessed or suspected physical abuse, while the incidence was highest in private dwellings.
Adults who may be vulnerable are those who may be restricted in their capacity to guard themselves against harm or exploitation, possibly as a result of illness, dementia, mental health problems, physical disability or intellectual disability.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Tele-medicine; Smartphones / GPs

The first tele-medicine service that allows patients be treated by their GPs using a smartphone has been launched.

The service, GP Online, is being piloted in six doctor surgeries in urban and rural locations and it will be rolled out nationwide during the year.
Online Medical consultation is a major growth area in health and several national and international companies are active in the Irish market.
This is the first service to allow patients to talk to their own GP from the comfort of their home or office.
The advantage is that patients are talking to the doctor who is familiar with their medical history and has all their records to hand, GP Online chief executive, Aidan Callaly said.

7 action items providers can take to launch telemedicine successfully

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

HIQA Analysis!

A new study says there is not enough current evidence to show that e-cigarettes are an effective aid to help people stop smoking.
The Health Information and Quality Authority has published the first analysis comparing the cost-effectiveness of various smoking cessation interventions.

Almost one in three people use e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking
Almost one in three people use e-cigarettes, to help
cease smoking

The cost to the healthcare system of smoking is about €460m a year.
There are around 820,000 smokers in Ireland, with half making at least one quit attempt each year.
Almost one in three people use e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking.
HIQA’s study says that while early evidence for e-cigarettes is promising, the Minister for Health should await the results of on-going  trials before recommending them as a smoking cessation method.
The health watchdog says that the most effective intervention is the prescription only drug Varenicline, either alone, or alongside nicotine replacement therapy.
Furthermore, it recommends that the HSE increase the uptake of the drug.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Drinking Water - WHO Report

"Today, almost two billion people use a source of drinking-water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio," Maria Neira, who head's WHO's public health department, said in a statement.

"Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma," she added.

Local people collecting water from a muddy waterhole in Mexico
Local people collecting water from a muddy
waterhole in Mexico

The report welcomed the fact that countries had on average raised their annual budgets for water, sanitation and hygiene by 4.9% over the past three years.
But it says 80% of countries acknowledge that their financing is still not enough to meet their nationally-set targets for increasing access to safe water and sanitation.
"In many developing countries, current national coverage targets are based on achieving access to basic infrastructure, which may not always provide continuously safe and reliable services," the WHO warned in a statement.
Guy Ryder, Chair of UN-Water and head of the International Labour Organisation, says "increased investments in water and sanitation can yield substantial benefits for human health and development, generate employment and make sure that we leave no one behind".