Fianna Fáil health spokesman  Billy Kelleher said party priorities include the introduction of a tax on sugar sweetened drinks and the phasing out of alcohol sponsorship in sport. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Party says it will ‘review’ free GP care for under-6s and halt extension to under-12s

That report on baby deaths at Portlaoise was hailed by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar as a “watershed” moment for maternity services in Ireland

There is no sign of promised reviews of a report on the Portlaoise maternity unit

Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Employees under investigation for managerial failures over a series of baby deaths

Natasa Eberling, an experienced nurse from Croatia, has been trying to get registered to work in Ireland for over a year.

Ireland’s hospitals face staffing shortages amid growing backlog of documentation

Prof Tim Lynch said a cure for dementia is five to 10 years away. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A cure for the disorder is five to 10 years away, according to neurologist Tim Lynch

The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. He had pledged to eliminate waits of more than 15 months by the end of last year, but failed to meet the target despite additional spending of more than €50m

Number of outpatients enduring long waits for appointments jumps almost 40%

 Minister For Health Leo Varadkar had pledged to eliminate waits of more than 15 months for outpatient appointments by the end of last year. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

January sees significant rise in the number enduring long waits for appointments

The Health Service Executive has apologised to a mental health patient over a delay of almost three years in investigating a complaint about her psychiatrist. Photograph: Getty Images

Psychiatrist crossed personal boundaries when treating patient, report finds

The HSE drew up the terms of reference for an investigation under its Trust in Care policy. This envisaged the completion of the investigation within four weeks

‘Unorthodox therapy’ leads to HSE investigation and apology

The highest uptake of the flu vaccination, at 47 per cent, was at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Uptake as low as 7% in some hospitals while four facilities had zero staff vaccinations

Two employees of St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin have been dismissed after an investigation into procurement at the hospital. Photograph: Dave Meehan.

Investigation followed revelations in RTÉ programme on hospital broadcast last year

 An embryo under a microscope. While fertility treatment is not provided in the public health service, tax relief on medical expenses is available. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister intends to introduce legislation in area of assisted human reproduction

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has argued staffing levels in hospitals are too low and do not take sufficient account of the needs of high dependency patients.

Plan to see staffing worked out on type of patients rather than number of beds in ward

Thousands of Irish blood donors are being advised to visit their doctors if they are experiencing symptoms of anaemia. File photograph: Michael Donne/Science Photo Library

Irish Blood Transfusion Service says faulty equipment may have caused the condition

Family doctors have criticised the Government for seeking to ‘nationalise’ general practice with plans to extend free GP care to all children. Photograph: Thinkstock

NAGP conference hears calls to resist extension of free GP care to under-12s

Dr William Behan, Walkinstown: “You’re dealing with more trivial illnesses, or illnesses at an earlier stage.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Increase in surgery visits has knock-on effects elsewhere, claim some GPs

Dr Omar Hassan Khalafalla: he misdiagnosed an X-ray, put on protective gear incorrectly and re-contaminated his hands by touching a non-sterile area while scrubbing up. Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times

How could a doctor who misread an X-ray move between jobs in the Irish health service?

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is now to launch a new two-week campaign aimed at encouraging people to take the flu vaccine. Photograph: Thinkstock

This year’s flu outbreak is yet to peak, with emergency department numbers up by 9%

The case at the centre of the row involves a woman who, as a child, was placed in a care home in the south east in 1989. She was 11 and remained there until 2009, during which period she was allegedly subject to severe abuse. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tony O’Brien apologises for leaving vulnerable adult in inappropriate foster home

The State has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world, according to a new study. Photograph: Anees Mahyoub/Reuters

Breastfeeding reduces infant deaths and protects against obesity, study claims

Clinical director of Wexford General Hospital Dr Colm Quigley said the patients were stable and responding well to treatment. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Two other cases suspected in Wexford hospital, as HSE says H1N1 virus is circulating

The Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaiose. Róisín Molloy, whose son Mark died in Portlaoise, told the launch the greatest apology she and other parents could get was to implement the new maternity  strategy. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Statements detailing facilities’ history promised in wake of baby deaths in Portlaoise

Dr Omar Hassan Khalafalla Mohamed moved from one hospital to the next despite concerns being raised by staff who worked with him. Photograph: Collins

Minister calls for more exacting checks after doctor found guilty

Under new projections, Irish children’s fat intake fell by up to 6 per cent, saturated fat was down 23 per cent, sodium 30 per cent and sugar 14 per cent. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Food and Drink Industry Ireland says reformulation is leading to healthier diet

Declan Connolly with his wife Charlotte, who is believed to be the only person in Ireland suffering from Degos disease. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

Degos disease: Charlotte Connolly has rare condition; expensive Soliris drug sought

Details of a €385 million programme to refurbish or replace public nursing homes have been announced by Minister for Social Care Kathleen Lynch. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

New programme will refurbish or replace centres to meet Hiqa standards, Minister says

The Government has set up a €5 million Health Innnovation Hub designed to encourage private sector companies and the health services to jointly develop products and research for patients.

Project worth €5m seeks to encourage joint ventures between private firms and health service providers

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar at the announcement of 5 Milllion Euro funding for the Health Innovation Hub. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Report listed Ireland worst in Europe for emergency treatment waiting times

The study by private Swedish firm Health Consumer Powerhouse found waiting times for minor operations and CT scans were among the longest of 35 countries surveyed

Lower-income countries such as Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia rank ahead of Ireland

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar was the most frequently lobbied Minister on the alcohol issue. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Most lobbying concerned planned law on countering alcohol abuse, register shows

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) says services must share and act on information about patient safety incidents, and learn lessons to prevent similar incidents happening again.

Watchdog says healthcare services need to share errors and learn to prevent repeats

Controversies have pointed to a lack of transparency in the service over admission of errors, most recently in the scandal over baby deaths in Portlaoise hospital. Photograph: Getty Images

Move prompts FF spokesman Billy Kelleher to accuse Minister of making ‘blatant U-turn’

UCC president claims the appointments were agreed with former minister for health James Reilly.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Head of college says commitment made to fund academic roles in Waterford hospital

Shauna Keyes arrives at Portlaoise County Council buildings for the inquest in to the death of her baby son, Joshua, in September 2013. Photograph: James Flynn/APX

If lessons had been learned, other baby deaths might have been prevented

The number of people on trolleys in hospitals across the State is approaching record levels as the health system struggles to deal with a rise in admissions caused by flu. Photograph: Getty Images.

Total of 536 people awaiting hospital beds on Wednesday, INMO says

The Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, Co Laois. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

HSE report makes 23 recommendations following death of baby Joshua Keyes in 2009

Higher doses of 2C-P can lead to nausea and vomiting; muscle spasms; fear, anxiety and paranoia; mental confusion; and increased blood pressure and elevated heart rate

Psychedelic effects come a few hours after being taken and can last for up to 20 hours

The electronic referral of patient appointments by family doctors is to become standard within months. File photograph: Hugh Macknight/PA Wire

New practice is part of a rollout of ‘e-medicine’ initiatives across the health system

The number of children under six being referred to hospitals has jumped sharply since the Government brought in free GP care for them last year. File photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Hospitals have seen a sharp increase in referrals since introduction of the scheme

Bill Prasifka, the new chief executive of the Medical Council. He believes the current system is ‘overly formalistic’. Photograph: Eric Luke

In his first interview since taking over as new broom, Bill Prasifka says he’d like to see a change in rules around fitness to pr(...)

Bereaved parents Mark and Róisín Molloy and Amy Delahunt and Ollie Kelly: “The victims of poor care in the hospital remain stuck.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Analysis: Promises for better care in future are no help to those who already suffered

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar believes there is scope for toughening up existing legislation so doctors could be held criminally liable for their actions. Photograph: PA

Bereaved families say criminal sanctions should be available in the worst cases

Islet technique:  involves sucking the islets, containing the cells that make insulin, from a donor pancreas and injecting them into the patient’s liver. Photograph: Andrew Matthews

Medical technique used elsewhere has never been introduced to Irish healthcare

Leo Varadkar appealed to people in at-risk groups – over 65s, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases and healthcare staff – to get the vaccine, given the rise in cases of the disease since Christmas. File photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Medical staff should have to tell patients whether they have been vaccinated, says Minister

Aishling O’Herlihy, Susan Humphreys and Vivian O’Brien  at the launch of the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day 2016. Photograph: Andres Poveda

Has the Irish Cancer Society suffered irreparable harm from the grant cuts controversy?

 Leo Varadkar:  said there is a “real problem” in the supply of GPs in remote areas, though less than 1 per cent of all GP schemes are vacant. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Almost 100 additional GPs would qualify for €16,000 extra payment under proposal

 Niamh Townsend of Dell  with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and John McCormack, chief executive of the Irish Cancer Society at the launch of the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day 2016. Photograph:  Andres Poveda

Charity says it needs to raise €200,000 to support fund for children with cancer

Dr James Gray of Tallaght hospital.

Tallaght hospital consultant claims patient faced ‘sensory torture’ during time in centre

  Minister for State  for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch: acknowledged that treatment for people with   a dual diagnosis needed to address both issues  and almost 170 specialists were to be appointed to tackle gaps in provision.   Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Man sectioned several times but each time was released when psychiatrists said they could not help him as he was drinking

This winter’s flu season has begun in earnest, with a four-fold increase in the number of patients attending GPs for influenza-like illness. Photograph: Thinkstock

Health Protection Surveillance Centre says flu circulating but vaccines offer good protection

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: He  will  launch the plan  in Dublin  alongside Minister for Sport Paschal Donohoe and their Ministers of State. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Plan up by cross-departmental group of civil servants with assistance from experts involved in sport

GPs have called for the creation of a dedicated fund for chronic disease management to meet the rapidly rising needs of an ageing population.  Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire.

IMO says extra €5bn a year will soon be needed unless doctors given more resources

The Irish Cancer Society has said it will maintain a fund for the families of children affected by cancer but support for adults will be discontinued. File photograph: Getty Images

Financial support for children with cancer to continue but adults’ scheme to close

Researchers  have found a link between higher consumption of potatoes before pregnancy and a greater risk of developing diabetes while pregnant. Photograph: Rob White/Getty

US-based researchers suggest substituting spuds with peas, beans and lentils

The upward trend of patients on trolleys is likely to cause concern within the health sector. Photograph: Getty Images

Hospital overcrowding approaches record levels as 537 patients wait for admission

The Irish Cancer Society has said it is closing its financial support programme because it is unable to meet the demand for the service. Photograph: Thinkstock

Charity says demand for financial support outstrips funding available for patients

The death rate from stroke has been cut by more than a quarter, a national audit of services has found.

Death rate from stroke in hospital cut from 19% to 14%, HSE and IHF study indicates

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar will visit the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise on Tuesday (files). Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Minister to brief families on measures taken to improve standards at Portlaoise hospital

The study in ‘BMJ Open’ says, for consultants, work-life balance is mostly felt by its absence. File photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

More than 90% surveyed say stress a problem, often due to concern over quality of care

 Flu activity this winter has been low,  with  33 people  hospitalised  up to Christmas, and one confirmed death. However, flu cases have increased in the New Year. Photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s report shows fall in cases of measles and tuberculosis, but incrase in mumps and HIV

At least 21 cases have been taken by individual consumers against high street eye laser clinics since 2008. Photograph: Getty Images

Models advertising cosmetic surgery creates unrealistic expectations, notes report

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has failed to fulfil his promise to eliminate long waits for hospital appointments, despite spending over €50 million to achieve the target. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

More than 10,000 patients waiting over 15 months at end of December, figures show

As a result of changes in the British alcohol guidelines, men in the Republic can drink three pints a week more than their counterparts in the North and still be considered at “low risk” of harm from alcohol.  File photograph: Johnny Green/PA Wire

Men in Republic can drink three pints a week more than men in North and be at ‘low risk’

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar remains under  political pressure over the hospital overcrowding crisis.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Government committed to deal negotiated before Christmas, says Leo Varadkar

Nurses on the picket line at Beaumont Hospital last January.Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Varadkar hopeful planned action by INMO can be averted

Leading charities have called for an end to the current two-tier mix of private and public health systems as part of reforms to create universal healthcare. Photograph: Thinkstock

Health Reform Alliance set up to campaign for equality of access to health service

Hundreds of elderly patients in Co Donegal have  to travel to hospitals in Dublin for treatment after the HSE outsourced their appointments. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

‘Frail’ patients given 24 hours’ notice of appointments in capital in HSE initiative

A new study has said that cuts in sugar levels in drinks could stop 500,000 people in the UK from becoming obese. File photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Sugar tax campaigners welcome research linking sweetened drinks with disease

Some 54 patients were on trolleys or in wards at Beaumont yesterday as the surge in post-Christmas attendances continued. Photograph: PA

Purpose-built €12m private nursing home virtually empty due to price row

The INMO’s accounts show the cost of pay and pensions amounted to €5.3 million, of which €4.2 million was accounted for by salaries.

National Association of GPs and INMO have declined to reveal bosses’ salaries

Prof Fergal Malone, the new master of the Rotunda, says the maternity hospital’s current premises are no longer fit for purpose.

New master warns that Blanchardstown hospital must be upgraded before move

Vigorous handwashing using alcohol-based gel or soap is advised. Photograph: Corbis

Public advised to wear protective clothing and be vigilant in hygiene practices

 The Rotunda: Prof Fergal Malone says the hospital wants to provide all available services for women diagnosed with a fatal foetal anomaly.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fergal Malone believes terminations in fatal foetal abnormality cases should be allowed

Retired judge Maureen Harding Clark: critical of “long delays” between acceptance of some symphysiotomy redress offers and payment of awards. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Some solicitors charging for unapproved costs from prior litigation, says judge

Bono at Leopardstown Races, who features in the 20-year-old interviews. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘Joe Jackson Tapes Revisited’ pulled from channel schedules amid copyright dispute

The Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise: a Hiqa report showed how badly women who had lost babies in the hospital were treated. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Leo Varadkar’s reforms after the Hiqa report into Portlaoise are coming late in the day

Reconstruction of an early woman farmer by Elizabeth Black. Photograph: Barrie Hartwell

Genetic researchers find evidence of mass migration to Ireland thousands of years ago

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar continued a long standing tradition in 2015 by throwing money at the problems in the health service. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Health: Minister for Health continues tradition by throwing money at the problem

Leo Varadkar said it was important to point out that the European judgment did not strike down minimum unit pricing. Photograph: PA

European ruling on Scottish plan fails to sway Minister on minimum unit pricing

 The Government’s plans for minimum unit pricing on alcohol may not find support from Europe. Photograph: Eric Luke

European court backs plain packaging on tobacco, but not minimum pricing on drink

Minister for Children James Reilly says he ‘can’t think of a better present for children at Christmas’ than the European Court of Justice ruling in favour of plain packaging for tobacco products. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Government to press ahead with plans to introduce measure from May, Minister says

Minister for Health Leo  Varadkar has said the Government knows a strong and convincing case can be made for minimum unit pricing over other measures.  File photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Photo

Minister for Health asks officials to study judgment by European Court of Justice

Irish legislation will remove tobacco branding from packets from next May

The strategy does not propose closing any of the Republic’s 19 maternity units. Photograph: Getty Images

Transformation of arrangements to ensure more home births facilitated

Future vision: Labour wards will be redesignated “high-intensity birth centres” but most women with normal or medium risk will be delivered in “low-intensity birth centres” that will not routinely offer epidurals, foetal heart monitoring or oxytocin to speed delivery.

Proposals for three ‘care pathways’ seek to normalise childbirth

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks would lead to about 10,000 fewer obese adults. Photograph: Thinkstock

In pre-budget document Minister for Finance’s office estimates total from 10 cent a can

Hospitals can be fined €10,000 each time they fail to deal adequately with emergency department overcrowding. Photograph: Thinkstock

Escalation measures kick in when patients are not seen within nine hours

Minister for Children James Reilly: “I admire  Australia’s courage in standing up to the tobacco industry again and again in legal challenges. Today is a great day for the future health of Australian children.” Photograph:  Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister says Ireland just as committed to standing up to big tobacco as Australia

 Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.  Mr  Varadkar  claimed pharmaceutical firms are charging the State ‘unbelievably high prices’ for lifesaving  drugs. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Minister said companies charge State ‘unbelievably high prices’ for lifesaving drugs

 Nursing home places may need to be doubled to meet the demands of an ageing population over the next 20 years, a report commissioned by the Department of Health has warned. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Ageing population will require 24,000 new places over the next 20 years, study warns

A study, published in the Irish Medical Journal, found  helpline websites were difficult to navigate,  phone credit was required in many cases in order to make contact, and opening hours and locations were limited. Photograph: Getty Images

Google search based on appropriate terms included links to methods to complete suicide and other harmful and explicit content

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar with National Cancer Control Programme director Dr Jerome Coffey at a programme launch earlier in the year.  File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Study lasting 14 years suggests yearly test could prevent 15 deaths in every 10,000

Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSEhas criticised the adversarial framework used to resolve litigation surrounding birth injuries and provide compensation for victims and their families. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish TimesPhotograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Tony O’Brien says challenges delay compensation and State loses virtually all of them

 Minister for Health Leo Varadkar at the launch of the HSE national service plan. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister claims drug companies are ‘picking off’ small countries with higher prices

 Minister for Health Leo Varadkar (centre) with Stephen Mulvany, chief financial officer (right) with the HSE  and and Tony O’Brien director general HSE (left) at the launch of the HSE’s plan for 2016. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tony O’Brien stresses there are no plans to change the eligibility rules for medical cards

Director general of the HSE Tony O’Brien. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Savings of €110m envisaged through ‘targeted reduction’ in prescribing and drug costs

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin was strongly critical of the figures put forward by Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Withholding of pay increments for staff put forward as savings option by executive

The HSE service plan warns of a significant challenge in maintaining existing levels of service in primary care, given the funding available. File photograph: Frank Miller

Health service plan warns of €100m shortfall for hospitals may lead to service reductions

Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The lion’s share of funds are needed just to maintain existing service levels

A  strike by nurses in hospital emergency departments planned for Tuesday has been averted.

Last-minute deal agreed with new proposals to be the subject of a future ballot

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