March 23, 2007

Health Service

 Harney tells HSE to achieve better value for money in 2007
Irish Medical News (Fri, 16 Mar 2007)

Health Minister Mary Harney has warned the HSE that it must achieve greater value for money in 2007. According to the HSE’s National Service Plan (NSP) for 2007, the Minister emphasised the need to secure “greater value for money and cost effectiveness” from the Executive’s core funding. In line with her requests, the HSE said it is developing an active VFM (value for money) and cost reduction plan for 2007-2010.

 HIQA chief calls for culture of ‘protective’ whistle blowing in Irish healthcare
Irish Medical News (Fri, 16 Mar 2007)

The Chief Executive of the interim Health Information and Quality Auth­ority, Dr Tracey Cooper, has called for a culture of “protective disclosure” to become embedded in the health service. Dr Cooper’s comments come as the health service/ union Work­ing Group on Workplace Disclos­ure has been put on hold, amid concerns that the HIQA legislation will supercede its work.

 Twomey contests role of HIQA
Irish Medical News (Fri, 16 Mar 2007)

The role of mental health tribunals is metamorphosing into something where the legal profession are seeing “those one-in-10” pa­tients who are deemed to have been unnecessarily involuntarily detained as “juicy pickings”, according to Fine Gael Health Spokesperson, Dr Liam Twomey.

According to Dr Twomey, while the Tribunals provide an excellent second opinion for patients, his concern is that the legal profession are viewing the process as “a gravy train”.

 'Whistleblowers' protected in new law
Irish Health (Thu, 22 Mar 2007)

Health Minister Mary Harney has introduced legislation to provide for 'whistleblowing' by staff in the health services. Under the provisions, employees making protected disclosures in good faith and on reasonable grounds will be protected from being penalised in the workplace and from civil liability.


Mental Health

 The misery of too much money
Irish Times Subscription (Tue, 20 Mar 2007)

An English psychologist is trying to find a vaccine against the 'affluenza virus' – a contagious infection that robs people of emotional stability in exchange for a materialistic lifestyle. English psychologist Oliver James has discovered a new virus that permeates every aspect of many people's lives today. Defined as the "affluenza virus", he describes it as a set of values which increases our vulnerability to emotional distress.


Involuntary detention
Irish Times Subscription (Tue, 20 Mar 2007)

Each year more than 2,000 patients – or 10 per cent of overall admissions – are detained on an involuntary basis in psychiatric hospitals. Relative to many other EU countries, Ireland's detention rates are significantly higher. However, new safeguards aimed at providing greater protections for patients' rights are likely to result in a reduction in the numbers being detained against their will.

 Lessons in mental health
Irish Times Subscription (Tue, 20 Mar 2007)

At any time, one in five students in every Irish classroom will have a significant mental health difficulty and many others are coping with family and relationship conflicts that have a negative impact on their health and educational performance. We tend to shy away from talking to young people about mental health issues for fear of "putting ideas in their heads" but when you ask young people what they need, they identify more information and support around mental health in schools as a priority.

 Psychiatric safeguards reduce involuntary detentions
Irish Times Subscription (Tue, 20 Mar 2007)

The number of patients detained against their will in psychiatric hospitals has fallen sharply since the introduction of new safeguards aimed at protecting the rights of people with mental health problems, new figures show. While an average of around 250 people were being involuntarily detained in hospitals each month under the old system, this has fallen by around a third to 150-160 since the introduction of mental health tribunals last November.

Focus on positive mental health for young people

Weekender (Sat, 17 Mar 2007)

Parents and pupils of Scoil Mhuire in Trim heard a panel of experts discuss the issue of positive mental health for young people last Tuesday. The event had been organised by transition-year students and is the latest in a number of initiatives aimed at promoting the welfare of teenagers. It took place against the background of a number of tragedies involving young people in Trim and the surrounding area of south Meath. The audience of more than 250 listened as students, part of a group of 'Young Social Innovators' at the school, detailed the results of a survey they had carried out in the area. This revealed that no less than 86pc of teenagers admitted to sometimes feeling 'depressed' or 'down'.


Suicide Prevention

 Three-year suicide prevention initiative launched

Irish Medical News (Tues, 20 Mar 2007)

A new three-year project aimed at developing a fast-track priority referral system for patients experiencing a suicidal crisis has been launched. The Joint Suicide Prevention Initiative is  funded through the National Office for Suicide Prevention and will be carried out by a suicide crisis assessment nurse at the Cluain Mhuire Service, wi
ll aim to improve understanding around self-harm and to "pick up specific referrals", according to Mr Geoff Day, Head of the National Office for Suicide Prevention. The Office will fund the project with €75,000 each year for the next three years. He added that there are around 11,000 deliberate self-harm presentations to A&E each year but there are additional incidences which are not reported "so this is an attempt to try and get some early intervention through primary care".


Living links – a lifeline by those bereaved by suicide in Mid-West
Limerick Post (Mon, 19 Mar 2007)

The Limerick based volunteer group Living Links aims to help people who have suffered through suicide and offer those affected a listening ear and a support network of people who have shared similar experiences.

 State confident it has strategy to tackle nation's suicide crisis

Irish Examiner (Fri, 23 Mar 2007)

 State aims to cut suicide rate by 10% in three years

Irish Examiner (Fri 23, Mar 2007)

The Government yesterday set a target of reducing suicide rates here by 10% by the year 2010. Minister of State in the Department of Health and Children Tim O'Malley also said a target of reducing deliberate self harm by 5% by 2010 had been set, with a further reduction of another 5% by 2016. The minister made his comments at yesterday’s second national forum on the issue of suicide, organised by the National Office for Suicide Prevention. Provisional figures indicate that 431 people died by suicide in 2005, while figures relating to deliberate self harm show a slight drop, although the minister said it was premature to say that there was a downward trend.

 431 suicides in 2005
Irish Health (Thu, 22 Mar 2007)

Irish hospitals dealt with nearly 11,000 cases of people who had deliberately harmed themselves in 2005, a conference on suicide prevention heard.

The figure, the most recent annual statistic, was 10,800. It is believed that 431 people actually took their lives in 2005. The Health Service Executive (HSE) held the seminar through its National Office of Suicide Prevention. Suicide or attempted suicide is more prevalent among the young and among women, the conference in Dublin was told.


Eating Disorders

 Eating disorder patients need beds
Irish Health (Fri, 16 Mar 2007)

Ireland needs at least another 20 public hospital beds for sufferers from eating disorders, a campaigning group says.

Bodywhys, an information and support group for sufferers of anorexia and bulimia, told a committee of TDs there are only three public hospital beds for such patients in the country.

 Eating disorder patients may face higher pregnancy risks

Irish Medical News, Page 4, 20-Mar-2007

Eating disorder patients may face higher pregnancy risks. A study by the Institute of Psychiatry in London has shown that women with eating disorders are at a higher risk of major obstetric complications. When compared to pregnant women with other psychiatric disorders, women with bulimia have a much higher risk of miscarriage and women with anorexia have a high-risk of delivering babies with a low birth weight



'Depression over-diagnosed'
Irish Health (Tue, 20 Mar 2007)

Depression is the 'common cold of psychiatry', according to a UK expert. Dr Mike Isaac, of the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry said that depression can be both under and over-diagnosed. He warned that it is important not to 'medicalise' normal experience or to undermine natural resilience to adverse events that happen during one's life.