Over 1,000 Traveller families living in inhumane conditions

New research carried out on a Travellers' site in Galway demonstrates the inextricable link between their deplorable living conditions and poor health status, writes Sara Burke.

Last week Minister Eamon O'Cuív launched the report on the health of residents living in the Carrowbrowne halting site, which is located in the Minister's own constituency, north east of Galway on the Headford Road. It reveals the appalling conditions experienced by the Travelling community and the benefits for involving Travellers at an early stage in the planning and development of any sites.

Prescription charges are hazardous to health

From April, all medical-card holders (30 per cent of the population) will be charged 50c per item prescribed, with a maximum charge of €10 a month per family.

Before the budget, there was talk of the “necessity” of charging for prescription drugs because of increasing costs. Mary Harney, the health minister, justified a charge on the basis of “two things — we have to raise money and we have to discourage over-prescribing and the overuse of medication”.

2009 in Healthcare

Health was usurped by the economy as the story of the year in 2009, yet health stories persistently hit the headlines. If you look at the papers on the 29th and 30th December 2009, reading the stories is like ground hog day: crowded A&Es, excessive wait times for colonoscopies, barbaric conditions in psychiatric hospitals. But look if we objectively over the year what were new health stories. The two biggest health stories were – the flu pandemic and President Obama’s efforts to extend health care coverage in USA.

Achievements in cancer care in 2009

Virtually all Irish families are touched by cancer. A year ago the country was still reeling from a series of cancer misdiagnosis scandals. The developments in cancer care in 2009 have been remarkable.

The cancer strategy was published in 2006. It recommended cancer services be centralised in eight designated centres. Up to 2007/8, cancer services were provided in 35 hospitals around the country. 

Now they are provided in these eight specialist centres.

HSE deny consultant's call for pay increase

The Department of Health is refusing to back down over pay cuts, denying hospital consultants a salary rise to which they claim they are contractually entitled.

Last week, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said its members would accept the pay cuts in the budget if they were first given the salary increase, which they said had been owed since June. The consultants claimed the rise was due under the terms of a new contract which came into force this year.

Budget 2010: hitting the poorest people and most marginalised communities

As the dust begins to settle on Budget 2010, the real impact of this budget on people’s health and well-being is beginning to emerge. How will Budget 2010 hurt some of the poorest and most marginalised in our community? The impact of the cuts on some community projects and the response of the Community Platform needs to be examined further.

What on earth does the Department of Health actually do?

With public services in the spotlight, in particular the health services, the silent machine of the Department of Health (DoH) manages to dodge most attention. So what does the Department of Health actually do? How many people work there and what is its budget? How as it changed since the establishment of the HSE in 2005? Is it providing good value for money? The mission of the DoH is to improve the health and wellbeing of the Irish people and oversee health and social service provision (“fair access, responsive and appropriate care delivery, and high performance”).