Advertising of cosmetic surgery must be reviewed – Buttimer

Thursday, 18th December 2014

  • Issue of unregistered practitioners of cosmetic surgery considered by Health Committee.
  • Advertising and regulation of cosmetic surgery must be reviewed and changed.

The advertising and regulation of cosmetic surgery must be reviewed as a matter of urgency and ultimately changed to protect people.   Under the current regime the regulation of medical procedures is divided between numerous bodies.  There is a need to examine if all of these strands can be brought together in the interests of patients.

It was truly shocking to hear at the Oireachtas Health Committee an example that a person with skin cancer was offered and underwent laser treatment in a beauty salon.  Needless to say the procedure was ineffective and that proper medical treatment was still required.  It is completely unacceptable that rogue operators can offer ineffective treatments for serious medical conditions.  Action is needed so that those who are putting people’s health and lives at risk can be held responsible and prevented from continuing with their dangerous activities.

The way medical procedures are advertised is also a serious issue.  Every medical treatment is serious and carries risks Advertising that trivialises treatments and makes it appear like any other consumer product potentially misleads patients.  Financial inducements, ‘two for one’ deals and celebrity endorsements are not appropriate methods for advertising medical procedures.  These practices can result in people undergoing unnecessary procedures without fully considering all consequences.

Medical procedures must be regulated in a way that places the patient’s needs front and centre.  We must ensure that patients are suitable for the procedure and aware of the risks involved, that the practitioner is properly trained for the procedure being offered and that treatment takes place in safe premises.  Unfortunately this does not always happen.

Posted under Health, National Work

Health Committee Publishes Report on Concussion in Sport

Image of Front Page of Report on ConcussionWednesday, 17th December 2014

  • Committee calls for a coherent strategy to reduce the risk of injuries from sports concussion
  • Taskforce on Sport and Concussion needed to develop uniform guidelines and a consistent approach

This morning the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children published its Report on Concussion in Sport. Having held hearings with medical experts, sports organisations, players representatives and policy makers the Committee has called for the development of a coherent strategy to reduce the risk of injuries from sports concussion. Any sportsperson experiencing or diagnosed with concussion should be immediately removed from play, regardless of pitch-side assessments. And sporting organisations, schools and medics need to do more work to roll-out standard guidelines on Return to Play rules.

In recent years, high profile and very serious concussion incidents across a number of sports both at amateur and elite level have underlined the extent of the problem. As a country, if we don’t have a coherent strategy on sports concussion, we will put the lives of our sports stars at risk. This Report seeks to chart a practical way forward to reduce these risks. For the first time in Ireland, our Committee sessions allowed key experts to come together to discuss this issue in a public forum. We were particularly struck by the willingness of all Irish sporting bodies to invest in measures to reduce the risk of concussion and brain injury.

Concussion can be fatal, especially if a player is left in a game and sustains a second impact, or Second Impact Syndrome. Concussion can often have longer-term effects, with some evidence suggesting that repeat concussions can lead to early onset dementia.

As a Committee, we are particularly concerned at recent developments in Irish sport. The pace of games can be far more intense, while players are getting heavier and the number of tackles is increasing. Although some progress has been made in recent years, it was also very clear from the testimony that sports concussion is a growing risk, particularly for schoolchildren and amateur sports men and women.

More could be achieved by all of the stakeholders pooling their expertise to work together on a common strategy across Government Departments, sporting organisations and educational institutions. Hence the call for a cross disciplinary government-sponsored task force to draw up a robust response aimed at reducing these injuries.

In its Report on Concussion in Sport published this morning, the Committee highlights the increased risks of concussion and brain injury, as a result of developments in professional and amateur sports.

The report recommends the establishment of a Taskforce on Sport and Concussion to develop uniform guidelines and a consistent approach to how we handle brain injury in sport. The Committee recommends that the Taskforce include medical experts, brain injury advocates, sporting bodies, youth organisations and government departments so that a coherent strategy can be rolled out.

The report finds that concussion in children needs to be managed differently than adults, with implications for school and amateur sports.

The Committee urges the application of the Zurich 2012 Statement on Concussion across Irish sports at all ages.

The report also suggests that state funding for sporting organisations should be linked to the completion of sports concussion training courses for referees, medical professionals and coaches.

The Concussion in Sport report recommends that the Taskforce:

  • consider what measures should be taken by the IRFU / GAA / FAI and other disciplines to develop a joint educational and awareness programme to improve awareness of sports-related concussion;
  • devise standard guidance on concussion diagnosis and Return to Play protocols for players, parents, coaches, medics, schools and sporting organisations;
  • make recommendations on rule changes in sporting disciplines to minimise the impact of sports-related concussion. For example, the report recommends that the Taskforce should consider measures to relax rules on substitution for concussed players;
  • make recommendations on the use of helmets and other protective headgear in certain sports;
  • examine how to standardise Return to Play advice to children and young people across the public / private school systems and between sporting codes, and
  • assess how the compulsory recording of sports-related concussion incidents in schools and sporting activities involving children, in line with Health and Safety and Child Safety standards, would be achieved.

Given the gaps in knowledge in the area, the Committee is also urging more research on sports and concussion in Ireland. International co-operation to pool data would be the best way forward.


Posted under Health, National Work, Sport

Ambulance report a pathway for improving quality and level of service – Buttimer

Tuesday 2nd December 2014

  • Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report entitled Review of Pre-hospital Emergency Care Services.
  • Report on ambulance services provides a pathway for improving quality and level of service delivered to patients.

This is a very detailed report on the state of our ambulance services and it highlights the range of challenges that need to be addressed.  But it also provides 12 key recommendations, providing a pathway for improving the quality and level of service delivered to patients.  If these recommendations are delivered the quality of and access to ambulance services will be increased across the country.

Having a National Ambulance Service delivering pre-hospital care across the country has been a very significant reform of our health service.  In its report HIQA acknowledges the importance of this change and of moving towards one national ambulance control centre. However, legacy issues from the old fragmented system remain and must be addressed.

It is imperative that the recommendations from this report are fully implemented.  The HSE, the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade must now cooperate to make sure that the required reforms become a reality.  In particular there must be a clear focus on the urgent need for co-operation and integration between the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade, this has the potential to vastly improve the service available to patients in Dublin.

Using alternative care pathways is one recommendation that must be considered as a priority. The report highlights that nearly all ambulance patients are taken to an Emergency Department, this contrasts with international examples where up to 40% are treated by paramedics at the scene.  Alternative care pathways also involve using local injuries clinics as an alternative to EDs.  This is something that is already happening in Cork with the Mercy Urgent Care Centre in Gurranabraher.  These reforms will not only make ambulance services more efficient but also to reduce pressure on other parts of our health system.

Delivering an improved ambulance service is a necessity.  This will require making better use of existing resources but it also needs the recruitment of more paramedics.  Now that we have a report that sets out a pathway for improving our ambulance service it must be acted on and its recommendations must be delivered.  It is imperative that the recommendations from this report are fully implemented.  The HSE, the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade must now cooperate to make sure that the required reforms become a reality.

Posted under Cork, Health, National Work