Health – Transplant Services; Waiting Lists; Breast Cancer Drugs; Vaccination Rates

[Speaking in the Seanad during Order of Business] I also request that the Minister come in and update us on the transplant situation. Over the past few years, those in charge of transplant policy in the country have felt it has been very unco-ordinated. We have seen other examples of problems in the health service … Continue reading

Alcohol Consumption

[Speaking in the Seanad during Second Stage of the Fianna Fail Bill – Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Fund Bill 2014] Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. I was just doing a quick mental inventory of the number of people I know personally who have taken their lives over the years, and I could make … Continue reading

Delayed Access to Tests for Detecting Genetic Breast Cancer

Obviously, substantial attention has been paid to the issue of breast cancer genetics in recent days. I would like the Leader to bring to the attention of the Minister for Health the current circumstances that pertain with respect to genetic testing for patients in Ireland. Most breast cancers are not genetic. A small minority of … Continue reading

Medical Practitioners (Amendment) Bill

Legislation to provide for mandatory professional indemnity cover for certain medical practitioners. Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire. I am very supportive of this legislation which has a sort of resonance with some of the issues that have arisen in the context of the abortion debate. We believe the contingency for which we are legislating is … Continue reading

Aviva Refusal to Cover Cost of Mastectomy


I was extremely distressed when I received a letter from a patient recently. I shall not name her but she told me she had had a surgical mastectomy of both breasts performed preventively because she had been diagnosed with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. This is a very sad circumstance that arises. The great … Continue reading

Availability of Cancer Drugs

I seek clarification from the Minister for Health on …. whether there has been a change in the process for deciding what anti-cancer drugs will be made available through the health service. Good research shows that countries which underspend on cancer drugs have inferior cancer outcomes. A famous study carried out by the Karolinska Institute … Continue reading

Good News for Cancer

Breast Cancer

While the recent news that mortality from breast and several other cancers fell in Ireland during the period 2002-2006 is extremely welcome, it should also prompt some sad remembrance for all those women who have died unnecessarily from this disease in our country. Breast cancer mortality is falling throughout the western world. The actual death … Continue reading

If the goal is cancer care excellence, why scrap one of the best services?

Sligo Hospital

While I am a supporter of the concentration of cancer treatment resources into larger comprehensive cancer centres, institutions with a critical mass of experts, and enough throughput to facilitate the maintenance of skills, I believe that breast cancer care in Ireland suffered a setback last week with the closure of the small, under-resourced but very … Continue reading

Uneven cancer treatments mean Ireland is still lagging behind

Published in the Sunday Independent on 9th September, 2007 Patients losing out despite having quality surgeons. Over the last several weeks, women with a diagnosis, or suspected diagnosis of breast cancer, were plunged into justifiable doubt and in some cases near-panic about the accuracy of the tests which they had undergone. Statutory investigations or suspensions … Continue reading

An ongoing peer review system, or one to examine old tragedies?

Published in the Sunday Independent, 2 September, 2007 Errors in recalling breast cancer tests are shocking. While the news that another group of women must suffer the agony of recalled cancer tests should cause sadness and sympathy for their plight, the disclosure that concerns regarding cancer care in Barrington’s Hospital had in fact been flagged … Continue reading