Minister for Health Simon Harris: With so many new, expensive treatments in the pipeline, there was  a need for a “serious look” at public policy on the issue of rising drug costs, he said. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Minister for Health calls for compassion for patients as Government mulls price decision

The death of two babies in Cavan General Hospital in the past week is being investigated by the Health Service Executive.

One child died after issues arose during mother’s labour and emergency C-section called for

The Health Service Executive, which is expected to overspend by at least €350 million this year, has severely cut back on staff recruitment this year in order to reduce costs. Three staff must leave before one new member can be recruited.  File photograph: Getty Images

Shutdown of Galway scanner to mean early deaths among older people, warns doctor

Kay Barry, from Limerick: “In my case I think the combination of surgery and pembro kept me alive and is giving me a good quality of life. My oncologist Derek Power in Cork is happy with my progress.”

Numerous controversies over huge costs of drugs have erupted. What price do we put on life?

Dozens with advanced cancer are unable to access the latest blockbuster treatment because the Health Service Executive drugs group has not met to approve it.  File photograph: Getty Images

Lifesaving drugs denied to seriously ill patients by slow HSE decision-making

Man’s best friend can be trained as a highly sophisticated “scientific instrument” and biosensor, says Dr Claire Guest. Photograph: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images

Dr Claire Guest of Medical Detection Dogs says their sense of smell can find diseases early

A dispute over governance structures after the NMH ’s move from Holles Street to the St Vincent’s campus has delayed  a planning application for the €150 million project.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

St Vincent’s and National Maternity Hospital in final effort to resolve governance row

The research questions the appropriateness of current guidelines that recommend low salt intake in the entire population, according to co-author Prof Martin O’Donnell of NUI Galway. Photograph: Getty Images

Idea everyone should eat less salt could be misplaced, claims NUIG researcher

Minister for Health Simon Harris: document says private health insurance is  important “driver of activity” in health system. Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Briefing prepared for Minister for Health is highly critical of governance in the HSE

One in four adults admit they have never read product information for over-the-counter medicines, and one in five have not done so for prescription only medicine. Photograph: iStock

Health authority concerned over growing use of internet to diagnose medical conditions

In a tiny number of cases where permitted by Irish legislation on abortion, terminations are being carried out in the Republic that in the past would have required the women involved to travel to Britain for the procedure. File photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Pro-choice groups say pills procured online contributing to decline in English abortions

The report showed there has been a 48 per cent decline in the numbers travelling to terminate a pregnancy since 2001. Photograph: Thinkstock

More than nine women a day gave Irish addresses at clinics in Britain last year

Patients selected ‘behaving honestly and with integrity’ as the most important aspect of professionalism for doctors from a list of 50 attributes. Photograph: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire

Survey finds high public trust in doctors but not business leaders, journalists, politicians

In 2013, Finian McGrath told TDs: “We all accept that smoking damages health, but so do excessive eating, drinking and lots of other things.” The difference, of course, is that all smoking is bad, not just excessive consumption. File photograph: Dean Lewins /EPA

Minister of State’s arguments are the same ones employed by the tobacco industry

Staff at Beaumont Hospital have expressed frustration at the pattern of rolling theatre closures, which were introduced six years ago to ration the beds and staff available.  File photograph: Reuters

One of facility’s 11 theatres shut each day on average since new year, says spokeswoman

Minister for Health Simon Harris is Fine Gael “through and through”, unlike Leo Varadkar, who is regarded with suspicion by the blue-blooded wing of the party. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

A lack of track record made Harris a puzzling choice as Minister for Health, but he hasn’t been easily daunted in the past

Finian McGrath has been the focus of controversy over the past week for his views on smoking and Irish Water. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Independent stands over pro-smoking views, says smokers ‘getting fed up’ with treatment

The Government plans to target a 5 per cent reduction in the average weight of Irish people over the next decade. File photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Government wants to ensure Republic does not become the fattest country in Europe

Environment groups criticise report on cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome in the county

The Irish Pharmacy Union says GP prescribing could lead to an increase in prescribing errors and leave patients open to being ripped-off by doctors seeking to maximise their profit.

GP prescribing could leave patients open to being ripped-off by doctors - pharmacists

The results of 97 patients who underwent urea breath testing “can no longer be located on the computer system,” Tallaght  hospital said in response to inquiries from The Irish Times. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Up to 5,000 patients may be waiting for urea breath test, some up to 3 years, says source

The Health Service Executive was almost €60 million over budget in the first two months of this year, new figures show. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Overspend could hit €350m in 2016 with hospitals and social care areas with main overruns

More than 8,600 patients waited more than a day for treatment in a hospital emergency department in the first two months of this year, new figures show. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Overcrowding, flu behind ED delays in January and February, HSE says

Lorraine Nolan: has appealed for funding for her daughter’s treatment

Up to a dozen people with schizophrenia in Co Meath unable to access Clozaril

A measles vaccination kit. A confirmed case of measles in a person who has recently been in Dublin and Co Kerry is being investigated, the HSE has confirmed.  File photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Infected person was in a number of public places in the run-up to the May Bank Holiday

 Ambulance service needs up to 750 additional staff and 250 ambulances to improve  response times. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister for Health Simon Harris urged to publish report on performance of service

Under a deal agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation in February, the rural-practice allowance for GPs rises to €20,000 from €16,216. Photograph: Bloomberg

Fund of €10m geared towards continuing access for patients and supports for doctors

Dr Peter Boylan: In relation to vasectomies, he said doctors at St Vincent’s “haven’t been told they can’t do them”. Photograph: PA

Clinical chief Prof Michael Keane says hospital will be free to carry out sterilisations

Child and family agency Tusla says it told the HSE about the risk faced by a young disabled adult in foster care 19 months before the person was removed from the setting.  File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Disabled person was left in foster home after sex abuse claims raised about foster carer

Under targets set by Hiqa, 80 per cent of life-threatening calls for emergency assistance are supposed to be dealt with by a first responder within eight minutes.  File photograph: Getty Images

Hiqa’s eight-minute goal for serious calls deemed challenging due to rural settings

New Minister for Health: Simon Harris TD with President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins

Simon Harris likely to meet St Vincent’s and National Maternity Hospital separately

The cost of running the ambulance service in Ireland is significantly higher than in England, a report by UK consultancy Lightfoot Solutions has found.  File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Rural nature of Ireland means cost of service significantly higher than in UK

The HSE has told principals the service is being discontinued because of a lack of evidence to support its effectiveness. Photograph: iStock

Association of Optometrists, which drew attention to the change, is disappointed

There were more than 407,000 people waiting for outpatient appointments and 74,000  for inpatient, according to the latest  figures from the National Purchase Treatment Fund

Almost 24,000 people have been on outpatient waiting list for more than 15 months

St Vincent’s says the board of the NMH at Holles Street should be subsumed into its own board. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Minister issues warning on dispute over €150m relocation of maternity hospital

A failure to create a single governance system for the two hospitals when the maternity hospital moves to St Vincent’s will waste taxpayers’ money and could increase the risk of costly litigation, according to Prof Michael Keane. File photograph: Dave Meehan

St Vincent's director warns running maternity unit separately could cause delays

St Vincent’s University Hospital. St Vincent’s  is eight-10 times bigger than Holles Street, based on patient or staff numbers, so the potential for it to dwarf the maternity hospital is obvious. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Both see benefits of National Maternity Hospital’s move but differ on who takes charge

A new report highlights the need for women of childbearing age to have higher intakes of folic acid in order to reduce rates of severe birth defects in Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images

FSAI report says mandatory fortification of bread best option to cut spina bifida rates

Marie Cunningham, who has scoliosis, holds on to a chair for support in her home in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

‘Walking is really bad ... I have to use crutches to help hold me up as I get exhausted’

In 2015, 133 scoliosis surgeries were carried out, 51 per cent more than in 2014, according to the HSE. Photograph: AP

Despite HSE resources and outsourcing to UK and private sector, queues still growing

 Eoin Byrne and Maree Butler leaving the Coroner’s Court for the verdict of the death of their son Darragh. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Family of baby Darragh Byrne critical of failings of Coombe maternity hospital in 2013

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland’s decision to cancel the registration of Edel Maria Fitzgerald was confirmed earlier this month by the High Court. Photograph: Reuters

Footage from hidden cameras showed nurse taking €50 sums belonging to 97-year-old

Staff parking is being constricted to help ease traffic congestion. At present 54 per cent of St James’s Hospital staff drive to work. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Union has voted for action against plans to cut spaces for National Children’s Hospital

 Portlaoise hospital. The families of babies who died at Portlaoise hospital may never find out if those responsible for the care of their children were disciplined by the health service, the head of the Health Service Executive has warned. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

HSE boss says families may never know if hospital staff members were disciplined

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: he instructed his officials to put pressure on the HSE

A report on whether staff need to be disciplined has effectively stalled

National Women’s Council of Ireland director  Orla O’Connor: “Women must be able to trust their maternity hospital that they will be treated in a compassionate and non-judgmental way.” Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Dublin hospital denies banning procedure for reasons relating to its Catholic ethos

 Eilish Hardiman, chief executive,  Children’s Hospital Group (left), Matilda, Ashleigh and Isabel Kiernan from Lucan, Minister for Children James Reilly, Minister for Health  Leo Varadkar and Mona Baker chief executive,  Temple Street Hospital (right) at Crumlin Children’s Hospital to celebrate the decision by an Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the new children’s hospital on a campus shared with St. James’s Hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

‘It is not the aim ... to force those travelling with sick children to use public transport’

Artist’s impression of the structure to be built as the national children’s hospital at the St James’s site in Rialto, Dublin. Image: Children’s Hospital Group/PA

The planning saga is over. Next step is funding construction at the St James’s site

Artist’s impression of proposed patient rooms at the site of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital to be co-located at St James’s Hospital,  Dublin. Image: Children’s Hospital Group/PA Wire

Construction to start after demolition of old buildings, with opening planned for 2020

Artist’s impression issued by Children’s Hospital Group of proposed family accommodation block at the site of the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. Image: Children’s Hospital Group/PA Wire

Money that could have been spent on healing sick children has been squandered

An aerial view of the proposed site for the new national children’s hospital at St James’s, Dublin

There will be 675 spaces reserved for use by patients and visitors at St James’s site

Plans to limit the use of private cars by users of the new national children’s hospital are “ambitious” but achievable, according to the planning inspector’s report

Inspector says no healthcare site better served by public transport than St James’s

An aerial view of the proposed national children’s hospital site at St James Hospital, Dublin

Varadkar says ‘short of an asteroid hitting planet’ €700m hospital will be built by 2020

Minister For Health Leo Varadkar:  told the Dáil this week  mental health services had benefited more from spending than other parts of the health service from spending increases under the outgoing Government. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Proposed €12m diversion away from sector will cause ‘irreversible’ damage, says group

Woman getting an ultrasound scan

National Cancer Control Programme says urgent cases are seen promptly

St Vincent’s hospital is wholly owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity, two of whose nuns sit on the board. File photograph: Dave Meehan

Chairman says claims nuns trying to take control of maternity services are groundless

Kirwan’s GP first did a physical examination before referring him for tests

Bowel cancer detected at Stage 1

Waiting times: ‘People have died waiting for investigations,’  says Galway city GP Brian Osborne. ‘Early detection leads to better outcomes and also costs less.’ Illustration: Thinkstock

To GPs, the system is ad hoc, haphazard and plagued by delays. Consultants, in contrast, stress the positive aspects

Patients and GPs should be provided with a standardised treatment summary of the anti-cancer therapy, the study recommends. Photograph: Thinkstock

Lack of information limiting GP in managing cancer patients, suggests Irish Cancer Society study

Public patients wait an average of 119-125 days for an MRI of the spine, musculoskeletal system or brain, while private patients are tested in under six days, the report shows. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Patient’s ability to pay affects access to referral, Irish Cancer Society report finds

Conor MacLiam, whose wife Susie Long died from bowel cancer, at a protest in March 2008. Long died after a seven month wait for a colonoscopy. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Strides made in treating cancer but colonoscopy figures show public patients lose out

Gerard Ingoldsby from Ballincollig, Co Cork. “I’m a lucky man. If I had been forced to wait for a public test I wouldn’t be here today”

‘If I had had to wait for a colonoscopy on the public list my cancer would have spread’

The report calls for the introduction of symptom-based guidelines for referring patients for tests

One-fifth of family doctors believe other GPs have better access to MRIs and scans

Scanning equipment is already used from 7am to 7pm in many private hospitals, and the PHA says this could be extended to meet demand from outsource public patients.

Staff could be rostered, equipment used in the evenings and over weekends, says PHA

Casualty: We have too many hospitals, too many emergency departments, too many maternity units. Photograph: Alan Betson

New figures suggest that lack of money is not the reason Ireland’s health service is in crisis. But if that’s true, what’s causing(...)

Thousands of patients with suspected cancer are suffering delays in investigation and referral because their GPs are unable to access services, according to a new report.

Patients are being referred to emergency departments due to access issues

There is a high likelihood of new diseases emerging and being preferentially spread by sexual activity among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to Dr William Murphy, medical director of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Conference hears risk posed to blood donations extremely small

Dental patients are being forced to take antibiotics for prolonged periods because of cuts to preventive treatments, according to the Irish Dental Association. Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

Fall in take-up for fillings and extractions due to improvement in oral health, says HSE

In December the HSE introduced a requirement for one staff member to leave before a new one could be recruited. This has been further tighened to  “three out, one in”. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Restrictive new hiring rules in the health service ‘could drive qualified nurses to UK’

Citing “unacceptable behaviour”, authorities said there has been “multiple incidents of verbal intimidation, racial abuse and generally antisocial behaviour demonstrated” in front of patients at St James’s Hospital, Dublin. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Staff repeatedly subjected to verbal intimidation and racial abuse by drivers

Half of  Irish 12-year-olds and 75% of  15-year-olds have some decay in their permanent teeth

Irish Dental Association has yet to decide whether to back sugar tax

Ireland’s health service got proportionately more than the NHS in Britain and about four times the share enjoyed by the health systems of Greece and Slovakia

Health accounted for 19.9% of government spending in 2014, almost 5% above EU average

Further delay announced to a review of 18 problem births in the maternity unit of Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Two new investigators being appointed to Portiuncula Hospital inquiry

Minister for Health Leo  Varadkar’s department plans to raid €12 million of the €35 million reserved for mental health to offset costs in other areas. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Calls for Leo Varadkar to explain why mental health spending is being diverted to other areas

Kathleen Lynch is resisting any raid on the funds available to her for mental health while she serves in the current caretaker administration. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Cuts ‘must be resisted as scandalous and discriminatory,’ says College of Psychiatrists

The Health Information and Quality Authority said it received 10,572 regulatory notifications about older people in residential care in 2015. File photograph: Getty Images

Health watchdog deals with 15 per cent rise in concerns about healthcare services

 Ciarán Breen, chief executive of the State Claims Agency:  says the agency is concerned that legal payments to third parties are on the rise when its own legal costs are falling.   Photograph:  Colm Mahady/Fennells

State Claims Agency chief executive says lawyers ‘bog down’ system with excessive claims

Greville and Anne-Louise Miley, parents of Jude Miley, parents of Jude Miley, who suffered brain damage as a baby following routine surgery. They are taking an action on behalf of their son.Photograph:  Collins

Legal teams are said to be reluctant to use mediation and prefer court

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch: Requested that agreed allocation for mental health remains in place “for the duration of the caretaker government and until a new minister is in place”. Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister asks Civil Service mandarin Jim Breslin to ensure resources remain in place

The HSE said incidents recorded in the context of a “very significant number of procedures”. Photograph: PA

Operations and procedures carried out on incorrect part of patients’ bodies

The union says up to 1,000 new nurses are needed to fill 600 current vacancies and to replace retiring staff across the mental health services.

Up to 1,000 extra staff needed in mental health services, PNA conference hears

The Heart Failure Patient Alliance has been formed to provide a voice for the more than 90,000 people with the condition in Ireland. Photograph: Thinkstock

92% of patients will soon be within required 90 minutes of livesaving angioplasty treatment

Private patients can get a colonoscopy done within 12 days, the society points out, thereby highlighting the gap in health services between those who can pay and those who cannot. File photograph: Thinkstock

Irish Cancer Society calls for political action on lengthening colonoscopy lists

Kevin and Una Kelly leaving the Coroners Court in Dublin. Their son Kevin James died six days after his birth in the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Kevin Kelly’s parents accuse HSE of ‘prolonging agony’ by failing to publish report

Kevin and Una Kelly leaving the Coroner’s Court. Their son Kevin James  died six days after his birth in the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Open disclosure still missing in maternity units struggling to retain qualified staff

Kevin and Una Kelly leaving the Coroner’s Court in Dublin. Their son Kevin James died six days after his birth in the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar. File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Baby Kevin Kelly died almost a week after he was born at Mullingar General Hospital

The old emergency admissions which will be replaced by the new Acute Medical Assessment Unit on the Acute Floor at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny. Photograph:  Dylan Vaughan

No expense has been spared at the new emergency block which has just opened

Under the cross-border directive, Irish residents who are entitled to health services here can access them in other EU states. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Demand for the EU cross-border directive (CBD) is doubling every six months

A number of blood donors have indicated their intention to sue the Irish Blood Transfusion Service after faulty testing equipment failed to detect their low haemoglobin levels, the service has confirmed. Photograph: Thinkstock/Getty Images

Problems with Irish Blood Transfusion Service equipment put blood supples under strain

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) provision at the acute psychiatric unit of Tallaght hospital was not in compliance with the code of practice, according to the Mental Health Commission. Photograph: The Irish Times

Patients physically restrained and secluded, commission finds

The Irish Heart Foundation said there should be some campaigns targeting middle-aged men specifically. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg

Middle-aged men may be ignoring health advice, Irish Heart Foundation warns

Women account for 30,000 of the 47,000 people with Alzheimer’s in Ireland. Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters

Dr Sabrina Brennan says women with less ‘cognitive reserve’ more succeptible

Lancet study reports quadrupling of cases, especially in low and middle income countries

Doctors are overdiagnosing asthma, according to two leading respiratory doctors. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Inhalers are frequently dispensed for no good reason, leading medics claim

People who suffer the death of a partner have a heightened risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for up to a year after the event, according to new research.

Growing body of research suggests stressful life events boost risk of heart attack or stroke

A significant rise in syphilis, and smaller increases in genital herpes and chlamydia, are reported in the HSE’s annual report on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for last year

Burden of sexually transmitted infections born by young people and gay men

Technology in the surgery: The vast majority of doctors are using computers to prescribe drugs, record clinical notes and access lab results, but only 26 per cent are ordering lab tests in this way. Photograph: Getty Images

Some 46 per cent of GPs say they want to continue working after age 65

Four out of five nurses reported not having the time to update case notes. Photograph: The Irish Times

INMO issues call for commission to investigate role of nurses in primary care system

Former IMO president Dr Mick Molloy said there was no clarity on when the clock started ticking for a patient’s wait in hospital. Photograph:  Bryan O’Brien

Executive misleading public on waiting times for admissions, IMO conference hears

Prof Allyson Pollock: ‘Parents don’t know that the laws of the game are decided by World Rugby, and it is only interested in the professional game.’ Photograph:  Iain White/Fennell Photography

Allyson Pollock says control should pass from World Rugby to government

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