Nationally, €238 million was spent on agency staff in 2013.  Photograph: Getty Images

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Co Louth, in breach of HSE regulations on agencies

The total spend on gift cards in 2012 at the National Drug Treatment Centre came to €1,515. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Management at National Drug Treatment Centre said cards related to play therapy

In one area 138 retired employees were paid a salary in 2013, according to audit report

Hiqa report finds ‘suboptimal’ cleanliness in many wards at Portiuncula

Woman suing Johnson & Johnson says she suffers ongoing pain since surgery in 2005

State saw 9.2 cases per 100,000 population in 2013, a rate passed only by Latvia and UK

Psychiatry, cosmetic surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology among most ‘complaint prone’

The National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street,  Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Proposed €150 million development was put on hold last May

Tens of thousands of patients have been moved off waiting lists without having seen a doctor so that a target set by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar can be met.

Weekend and out-of-hours clinics for patients have yet to begin

Up to one in five operating theatres in hospitals across the State are lying idle because of staff shortages or a lack of resources, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association has claimed. Photograph: Thinkstock.

Underfunding of hospital and mental health services damaging patient care, group claims

The central finding of the European Court of Justice  was that protected working time of non-consultant hospital doctors, when they are engaged in educational and training activities and are not available for work, does not constitute working time. File photograph: Getty Images

ECJ rules protected working time of NCHDs does not constitute working time

The future of the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise is unclear.

Shortage of consultants may mean accepting inferior standards of care, Varadkar suggests

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher: “It’s bad enough that the Minister moved the goalposts on waiting times. Now it seems he can’t even read the scoreboard.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister says figures are improving despite discrepancy between his and NTPF figures

Retired judge Maureen Harding Clark. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Judge Maureen Harding Clark says almost 100 women have not provided full records

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar claims to have substantially achieved his goal of ensuring no patient is on a waiting list for 18 months.

1,988 patients waiting for an outpatient appointment at end June for more than 18 months

Patients here spend an average of 120-165 days on waiting lists for common medical procedures. File photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Report shows specialists earned on average almost €164,500 in 2014

A new report by Hiqa has highlighted the frequency of recommendations repeated in healthcare reports for Irish hospitals and healthcare providers

Hiqa says improvements do not require additional financial resources

Drinking during pregnancy is highly prevalent and “socially pervasive” in Ireland, research published in the British medical journal BMJ Open says. File photograph: Thinkstock Photos

Over 75% of Irish women’s pregnancies feature alcohol use - despite warnings

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: decided to exempt asylum seekers from the charge following an examination of the issue by his officials and the Health Service Executive. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar says asylum seekers will not have to pay levy

INMO says trolley numbers last month up for the twelfth month in a row

A French appeals court has ruled a German firm  does not have to compensate more than 1,000 French women fitted with  leak-prone PIP implants, overturning a lower court decision. The earlier  decision had led lawyers to claim Irish women could receive in compensation arising from  damage after their silicone gel implants were found unsafe.   File photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Lawyers had claimed Irish women could get €10,000-€15,000 over PIP implants

Nursing and Midwifery Board censures nurse for spitting at nursing home resident

File photograph: Thinkstock

Doctors to pay increased annual fees of €605 after union ends campaign of opposition

Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar at the launch of the online registration system for the free GP care for the under-6s scheme. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

HSE refuses to allow ‘conditional’ acceptance of contract from doctors with concerns

Parents can still register their children on for free GP care.

More than 79,000 children entitled to free GP care following registration

The Rotunda is to move to the site of Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and the Coombe is to transfer to a site adjacent to the planned new national children’s hospital at St James’s Hospital

Rotunda going to site in Varadkar’s constituency, Coombe will be beside St James’s

The number of private and voluntary nursing homes dropped by nearly 4 per cent to 437 over the past five years, at a time when the older population was growing, a survey carried out by Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) shows. Photograph: Thinkstock.

Survey shows weekly difference of over €350 between facilities in Dublin and Donegal

Dr Bobby Smyth: said similar findings had been made in other countries where bans were introduced. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Study appears to contradicts claims by critics of crackdown that it would drive demand underground rather than reducing it

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘Last thing the Government wants in run-up to an election is further debate on issue’

Kilkenny District Court has made an interim order cancelling the registration of Our Lady’s Unit at St Patrick’s Centre with effect from last Friday evening.

Court cancels registration of unit at St Patrick’s Centre after Hiqa queries

‘I’m afraid that by the time they sort this out, my body will be too weak for a transplant’

“The potential remains to reduce public spending on pharmaceuticals, in particular patented medicines,” according to the commission’s recommendations.  Photograph: PA Wire

European Commission rebuffs complaint by group representing Irish pharma companies

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar. “Their ambition is that we should raise the minimum industrial wage and then put everyone on it.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sinn Féin takes donations but ‘doesn’t believe in America’, says minister

Britain’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found that Dr Vincent Kent ‘acquiesced’ in the creation of a false account, implacing an ‘innocent fellow practitioner’

Dr Vincent Kent, whose fitness to practice was in Britain was ‘impaired’, listed as providing cosmetic surgery services in Dublin(...)

Retired surgeon David Hickey at the Beaumont Hospital pancreas transplant unit. Since his retirement the unit has closed and no transplants have been performed. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Patients suffering due to lack of pancreas transplants at hospital, says David Hickey

Beaumont Hospital was unable to say when pancreas transplants would resume. Photograph: Eric Luke

Former surgeon accuses hospital of ‘callous disregard’ of needs of those on waiting list

Professor of obstetrics at UCD Michael Turner. Mr Turner told the Oireachtas health committee that pregnancy complications linked to neural tube defects such as spina bifida was a public health issue of major importance. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Rise in birth defects linked to reduction in vitamin intake among childbearing women

No internet pharmacy, whether legitimate or not in another country, can supply drugs to customers in Ireland. That hasn’t stopped the flow of medicines into Ireland from overseas merchants hawking their wares on the web.

Crackdown on illegal medicines about to get tougher as online trade continues to grow

Garda and health products authority investigating ‘fat burning’ drug containing DNP

Dr Rhona Mahony, master of the National Maternity Hospital. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

High expectation and low resources are a challenge, according to Dr Rhona Mahony

The Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness said getting value for money is central to proper procurement, but in the case of the HSE “that is simply not happening”. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times.

Public Accounts Committee says goods and services not being procured competitively

The Alone organisation said a third of those in nursing home care with low to medium dependency needs could live at home if they were supported to do so. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Insufficient invested in ageing at home, says Alone

The Alfred Beit Foundation is to consider postponing the sale of a number of paintings from Russborough House in Co Wicklow.

Board to meet to discuss pulling of paintings from auction after private donors make offer

The Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise. A review which looked at case notes of 28 births about which concerns have been raised, many in Portlaoise, has been published.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times.

Women who have adverse events in maternity units ‘should receive reviews in two months’

Artwork by young architect Sophie Kelliher for the Industria exhibition.

Projects developed as part of ‘Industria’ exhibition challenge with DIT and IDA Ireland

The Towers Pub closed its doors last year after over 40 years in business after the premises were purchased by Dublin City Council, which plans to redevelop the shopping centre. Photograph: The Irish Times

Fire crews tackling blaze at former venue which featured on crime drama Love/Hate

Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn. The health watchdog is to be given the power to investigate incidents in private heathcare, under new legislation to be drafted shortly. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Varadkar says measure designed to alleviate concerns about service safety and quality

The Irish Kidney Association says the post-transplant clinic at Beaumont Hospital has ceased following the retirement of David Hickey, the country’s only pancreatic transplant surgeon. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Many transplant patients have been forced into overcrowded emergency departments

A woman patient has sustained multiple fractures after falling out of a window at Cavan General Hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Woman had subdural haemorrhage as well as fractures after incident early on Thursday

The NAGP has told members it had no choice but to end court proceedings after receiving legal advice it was likely to fail and the association would be liable for all legal costs. Photograph: Getty Images

GP group says withdrawal of court case a “dark day” but vows to continue opposition

Dr Vikas Gobin faces an allegation of professional misconduct in relation to an incident  at the Front Door pub in Galway in December 2011. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Dr Vikas Gobin faces allegation of professional misconduct over Galway pub incident

Health service staff should be legally required to inform patients when mistakes or errors occur, according to a new report from the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Oireachtas health committee says doctors should be obliged to tell patients of mistakes

Consultant neurosurgeon Charlie Marks: While agreeing he erred, he is highly critical of the cost of the investigation and the time it took. Photograph: Daragh MacSweeney/Provision

Leading surgeon Charlie Marks launches stinging critique in wake of investigation

“A very small number of people” had sight of data relating to one other individual’s application, according to the HSE

More than 20,000 children registered despite online system crash

People who eat up to two bars of chocolate daily have a lowered risk of heart disease and stroke, according to new research. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Research finds link between higher intake and lower chance of cardiovascular events

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Kiya O’Connor at the launch of the online registration system for  free GP care for children under six at St Andrew’s Resource Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Launch of free GP care for under-sixes has gone well despite glitches, says Leo Varadkar

Applications to the HSE have opened and the scheme will kick off from July 1st. You can register at or send in an application card (downloadable from the site) by post.

Free GP care for under-6s? Yes please. How do I avail of it?

HSE director general Tony O’Brien: appointed a three-person investigation team comprising experts from the UK to examine management and clinical failures at Portlaoise hospital. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Nearly 20,000 complaints made last year, marking significant rise on 2013 figures

Minister of State for Primary Care Kathleen Lynch said efforts needed to be sustained to continue reducing child admissions to adult units. Photograph: Eric Luke

Programme for Government in 2011 stated intention to abolish practice

Dr Declan Egan failed to adhere to Lorna McKeogh’s consent by clipping both of her fallopian tubes instead of one, but this did not amount to poor professional performance, according to the Medical Council. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Woman sterilised by Declan Egan accuses Medical Council of failing to support patients

The HSE says 51 per cent, or 1,232 of the 2,413 GPs who hold medical card contracts, have signed up. It has also written to 336 GPs who do not hold contracts, inviting them to sign up. Photograph: Getty Images

HSE says 51 per cent of doctors have agreed to operate the scheme ahead of launch

A disciplinary inquiry into a Galway fertility doctor who clipped both of a woman’s fallopian tubes when he had consent to clip one  heard that he believes he acted in the patient’s best interests

Medical Council chairman says case involving Dr Declan Egan raised issues of concern

The HSE has apologised to a patient who suffered a serious adverse incident in Cavan General Hospital ’s maternity  unit. The incident did not involve the death of a baby. File photograph: Getty Images

Health Service Executive commissions four external investigations into fatalities

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has said that it has no formal role in the investigation of complaints about long waits on hospital trolleys. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Health watchdog says it has no formal role in examining hospital complaints in this regard

Some 338 patients were on trolleys or in extra ward beds in emergency departments waiting for admission to hospital on Monday, according to  the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Almost 415,000 people waiting for outpatient appointments in May

The scheme is fiercely opposed by one group representing family doctors, the National Association of GPs, which claims it will cause chaos in general practice. Photograph: Getty Images

Group of physicians opposed to under-sixes proposal to launch High Court challenges

The entrance to Tallaght hospital. The hospital has expressed regret over a delay which resulted in a 102-year-old woman spending more than 26 hours on a trolley in its emergency department this week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Patient given transfusion in emergency department while waiting for bed

Complex surgery transferred from Portlaoise to other hospitals

The Medical Council has revealed its frequent use of emergency court applications to protect public safety at the launch of its annual report, which shows disciplinary hearings against doctors are increasingly being heard in private. File photograph: Karl Grupe/Getty Images

Complaints over doctors fell from 400 in 2013 to 308 last year, says Medical Council

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: likened arguments against the GP scheme for care of under-sixes to opposition to major health reforms in the past. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

More than 1,000 GPs sign contract as Minister says there is ‘no looking back’ on plan

Water in Ireland is currently fluoridated at between 0.6 and 0.8 ppm, half the limit permitted by the World Health Organisation. File photograph: Getty Images

Most studies examined not suitable to prove or disprove link to health effects, research finds

Review of previous studies does not give us clear-cut answers in respect of many of the claimed negative health effects of fluoridation

Analysis: Lack of definitive evidence means some will continue to call for change

HSE director general Tony O’Brien. St Vincent’s Healthcare Group has threatened a ‘legal battle’ with the health executive if more than 100 consultants are prevented from doing private work. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Healthcare board to take action if consultants are prevented from doing private work

Tánaiste Joan Burton. Ms Burton has said that the constitutional protection for TDs and Senators in the Dáil is a cornerstone of democracy. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Tánaiste says that parliamentary privilege is a cornerstone of any democracy

The first group of patients with advanced liver disease who have been approved will be treated at one of 10 centres across the State in the coming weeks. Photograph: Getty Images

Nearly all 250 sufferers expected to recover after treatment costing up to €55,000 each

 While tobacco use is declining across Europe, it has fallen four times faster than average in Ireland, from 29 per cent to 21 per cent since 2012.  File photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Just 21% of people in Ireland smoke, the fourth lowest rate in the union

Patients are afraid to complain about the care they receive in hospitals because of concerns over possible repercussions for themselves or their loved ones, according to an investigation by the Ombudsman. Photograph: AFP

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall says people don’t think complaining will make any difference

A disciplinary inquiry into a Galway fertility doctor who clipped both of a woman’s fallopian tubes when he had consent to clip one has re-opened before the fitness to practise committee of the Medical Council.

Galway doctor Declan Egan before Medical Council fitness to practise committee

The research at St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin was led by Prof Donal O’Shea: ‘If we can understand how the body burns energy and defends itself against weight loss, we’ll eventually be able to come up with different treatments.’

Research found fewer Mait cells in obese patients that could make weight loss harder

Prof Robert Harrison, who resigned as chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians after ‘The Irish Times’ published details of correspondence to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Chairman resigns after correspondence questioning women’s place on group

Cyclists take part in the Mallorca 312, a long-distance circumnavigation of the island by bike. Photographs:

The Mallorca 312 race must be completed within 14 hours, but there is still time to enjoy the experience

Savita Halappanavar, whose death lead to calls for a new maternity strategy. Obstetricians have queried the presence of two women who lost children at Portlaoise hospital in a steering group for developing this strategy.

Two women who lost babies at Portlaoise hospital are in maternity steering group

 Eddie Kelly, Carlingford, Co Lough, who received a new heart in an operation at the Mater hospital, Dublin,  in  September 1985, leaving the hospital with his wife Eileen and the nurses in charge of the Intensive care unit (from left): Sr Ursula Bullen, Cork, Sr Mary Bridget and Sr Pat O’Leary. Photograph: Pat Langan/The Irish Times

Legislation to encourage organ donation may be introduced before April 2016

Chairman Justice Alan Mahon has ruled all documents other than specified “relevant material” be returned to the person who provided them or their lawyers. Photograph: The Irish Times

Internal ruling that private papers be given back or destroyed before inquiry is wound up

Tony O’Brien said the HSE bid for €22 million to fund initiatives,  but got nothing. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Clinicians made a special appeal for funding to address ‘serious inadequacies’ at the hospital

 Tony O’Brien, director general of the HSE, leaving the Dáil following the  Oireachtas health committee. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Health body accused of trying to suppress programme on Portlaoise hospital deaths

Tony O’Brien’s LinkedIn page said he was “director, clinical strategy and programmes, HSE from May 2011 to March 2012”. It was then changed to say that he was as director of clinical strategy and programmes from May 2011 to September 2011, not March 2012 (right).

HSE director general’s LinkedIn profile changed after HSE complaint about article

From left: Ollie Kelly, Amy Delahunt, Roisin Molloy and Mark Molloy appearing at the Oireachtas health committee.

Families who lost children told to ‘go away and have more children’, health committee hears

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar during a visit to Portlaoise hospital last week. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Reactions to Hiqa report make it hard to be confident of its implementation

Former Coombe master Dr Chris Fitzpatrick confirmed a report was sent to the HSE and the Department of Health ‘at the highest level’ under the auspices of the HSE’s clinical programme in obstetrics. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Call for resources to address ‘serious inadequacies’ unheeded by Government officials

Prof Brian MacCraith, president of DCU: a group chaired by him has made a series of recommendations for improving medical training and working conditions which are  being implemented. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh / The Irish Times

HSE culture must change to encourage doctors and nurses to return, says study

Variations in infant death rates within acceptable limits, says NPEC

The study said 1,148 deaths of adults in the Republic aged over 30 years were attributable to air-pollution particles in 2011. Photograph: Getty Images

Study - reduction of 40% emissions via fuel-burning could save 500 lives annually

Cavan General Hospital: despite four infant deaths in 30 months and concerns raised about the slow progress of investigations, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said a review of all deaths at the unit was not warranted ‘at this stage’. Photograph: Colm Connaughton

Leo Varadkar says review of all fatalities at Cavan maternity unit not yet warranted

Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn has called on Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to establish an oversight committee in the Department of Health to ensure the recommendations in the report on Portlaoise hospital are implemented. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Political commitment vital for improvements to health system safety, says Hiqa chief

Former minister for health James Reilly said last May he would instruct the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to review maternity services at the hospital. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Four babies have died in 30 months at the maternity unit due to be reviewed by Hiqa

The HSE failed to take decisive action on defining the role of the hospital and to resource it sufficiently. For example, up to last July, the 24/7 emergency department had an emergency medicine consultant on site for only six hours, four days a week. Photograph: Getty Images

Report calls for HSE action plan, with one person accountable for implementation

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: Promised the independent patient advocacy service recommended in the report by the State’s health watchdog would be fully independent of the Health Service Executive. Photograph: Collins

Minister pledges strategy for maternity services in wake of infant-fatalities report

HSE director general Tony O’Brien promise to take “whatever action is appropriate” once he has had the chance to read the report in full. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

HSE chief’s ‘swift and decisive action’ mantra unravels on closer examination of the facts

Hiqa chief executive Phelim Quinn speaking at the publication of the Patient Safety Investigation Report into services at Portlaoise. Behind him are Prof James Walker and Mary Dunnion. Photograph: Dave Meehan.

Problem is lack of overall maternity strategy in Ireland, says obstetrician James Walker

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