News Ireland daily BLOG Thursday

Thursday 28th November 2013

Central Remedial Clinic voluntary donations used to pay Staff top-ups


Clinic gets €19m in State funding to provide services for people with disabilities

The clinic’s fundraising literature states that although it is largely State-funded, it has a “significant annual shortfall which must be made up through voluntary donations and fundraising”.

The Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) receives €19 million a year to provide support to thousands of children and adults with disabilities.

The clinic’s fundraising literature states that although it is largely State-funded, it has a “significant annual shortfall which must be made up through voluntary donations and fundraising”.

It adds: “Your support is vital, without it the Central Remedial Clinic would not be able to deliver such high standards of service.”

A charity linked to the clinic – the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic – raises about €2 million for the organisation each year.

Most of the money raised by the Friends and Supporters organisation is generated from a lottery that is administered by the Care Trust.

Donors to the lottery are invited to make monthly contributions, either by direct debit or credit card, starting from €3.50 a month upwards.

Yesterday, the CRC confirmed that some of the funding generated by the Friends and Supporters organisation was being used to pay top-up allowances to senior staff in the clinic.

Large projects
However, it said most of the money had enabled the clinic to fund a large number of capital projects, such as services in Waterford, Limerick and Dublin.

Accounts for the Friends and Supporters company state that its aims are to “distribute [lottery] funds in accordance with its objectives” and that it intended to “continue to support the Central Remedial Clinic Clontarf and other services for people with physical disability”.

Separately, the CRC also invites potential donors on its website to become a “friend” of the organisation for a minimum subscription of €50 a year.

“In doing so, you will be supporting the clinic’s work for children and adults with physical disabilities and helping to maintain the high standard of services for which we have become renowned,” it states.

High profile
The clinic is also involved in a range of other high-profile fundraising events such as the Santa Bear appeal and a comedy night.

There is no evidence to suggest these funds are being used to make top-up
payments because the clinic has declined to comment beyond the activities of the Friends and Supporters organisation.

Overall, the clinic is acknowledged to have played a vital role in improving the lives of children and adults with physical disabilities since it was established in the 1950s.

Today, the Central Remedial Clinic has expanded to include services in the greater Dublin area, as well as Waterford and Limerick.

Irish Government told HSE overspend could be as much as€300m


Health agency says deficit may be double Minister for Health’s estimate in worst-case scenario

The Health Service Executive has told the Government that in a worst-case scenario its financial deficit for this year could be close to €300 million, significantly higher than previously stated.

The director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, warned the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last month that its latest cash forecasts were indicating a net revenue deficit for the year of about €286 million.

In official correspondence, seen by The Irish Times, he also said this figure could rise as it assumed that funding outside the HSE’s control, such as the receipt of income from the British authorities for citizens treated in Ireland, would come in on target.

The correspondence said that in September receipts from the British department of health were €25 million behind expected levels.

Some Government sources maintained that the potential €286 million deficit did not take into account any additional savings that could be generated before the end of the year or any reduction in the rate of spending in the health service.

Minister for Health James Reilly had forecast after the budget last month that the HSE deficit could be about €150 million this year.

Financial projections 
A spokesman for Dr Reilly last night declined to comment on the HSE’s financial projections on its potential deficit for the year.

One key element in determining ultimately whether the HSE deficit for the year will be close to the €286 million worst-case scenario or nearer the Minister’s estimate will be whether €104 million in accelerated cash receipts earmarked from health insurers actually materialises.

Over recent weeks there has in effect been a stand-off between the health insurance industry and the Department of Health over this issue.

The industry has linked the issue of the €100 million in accelerated receipts to reforms for charging insurers for private patients treated in public hospitals, which the Minister wants to introduce from January.

Fee structure
The Minister said a new fee structure he is seeking to put in place was aimed at generating €30 million in revenue.

Insurers have contended the new fees would realise far more for the Government and have maintained that independent assessments on the issue, which the Minister had sought, had validated their position.

The representative body for the sector, Insurance Ireland Health Insurance Council, yesterday said the current proposed rates would raise an additional €130 million for the HSE rather than the €30 million announced by the Minister.

The council said this represented an additional €100 million over and above the amount planned for and was completely unacceptable.

“These charges come into effect on January 1st, 2014, and if left unchanged they will result in private health insurance customers again having to pay more for their health insurance,” it said.

The exact level of supplementary funding to be provided by the Government to the HSE is likely to be decided formally over the coming week or so and will be debated in theOireachtas in December.

The Department of Health is considering the HSE’s service plan for next year, which was scheduled to produce cuts of between €666 million and €1 billion.

M.A.P. Pill ‘may not work for heavy women’


IRELAND’S only over-the-counter morning-after pill is being reviewed by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) after a manufacturer said it would not work for women who weigh over 12-and-a-half stone.

Two pills are under review – Levonelle which is available on prescription and Norlevo which is the over-the-counter product accessible here.

Levonelle is also less effective for women weighing more than 11 stone 11 pounds.

The average Irish woman weighs 11 stone and the new findings mean women who have taken emergency contraception could still fall pregnant.

DATA: “The Irish Medicines Board together with its EU counterparts is also currently reviewing the available data on this issue,” said the IMB in a statement.

Alison Begas, CEO of the Dublin Well Woman Centre, told the Herald there is an alternative drug women can take.

Ella One, a five-day emergency contraceptive pill which is only available on prescription, is 99pc effective and works as well on day five as it does on day one.

The two drugs under scrutiny are only 95pc effective on day one and after 24 hours the effect diminishes to 58pc. Also available is a five-day post-coital coil which must be fitted by a qualified doctor.

The alarming news, an-nounced by manufacturer HRA Pharma comes only two years after over-the-counter emergency contraception was made available here.

A number of pharmacies contacted were not aware of the recent medical development.

Dad-of-two makes full recovery after dying 17 times


John Gilmartin studies a photograph of hospital medics working to save his life

A man whose heart needed restarting 17 times is making a recovery after doctors carried out an emergency operation on him in an A&E department.

John Gilmartin (41) from Derby in England had his heart restarted 11 times on the way to hospital and a further six times at Royal Derby Hospital.

Doctors operated in the A&E department’s resuscitation room. They also carried out a procedure to fit a miniature pump in Mr Gilmartin’s heart while he was still in A&E — in what has been described as a first for the hospital.

Mr Gilmartin is recovering at home with wife Sally and children Jade (11) and Jack (14).

He told ‘The Derby Telegraph’: “I can hardly remember any of it but I’m so grateful to be alive. I remember nothing until I woke up in intensive care. The whole thing is so surreal.

“It’s a complete blank until intensive care — I had no idea what had happened.”

Mrs Gilmartin said: “He woke up that morning and he was fine — he went to the shop, came back and went upstairs.

“It was when he came back he said he wasn’t feeling very well and I noticed his face was drained of colour.

“He went outside for a bit of fresh air but then he was sick down the drain, so I told him to go and lie down.

“The next thing, he’s lying on the bed all stiff and purple, with his eyes in the back of his head, and I’m shouting, ‘John! John!’ at him but getting nothing back.

Dr Gareth Hughes, who worked on keeping Mr Gilmartin alive, said that in repeated-resuscitation cases the patient nearly always suffers neurological damage.

He said: “It’s incredibly unusual to have such a successful outcome that not only did he survive but survived completely neurologically intact.

“The fact that he’s quite young and probably has reasonable cardiac functions has helped him in this case in that we were able to recover it.”

Did the comet ISON flame out on its trip around the sun?


Like Icarus, comet ISON appears to have flown too close to the sun and broken up in its corona.

Scientists had hoped that the comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system would be able to slingshot around the sun Thursday and emerge streaming a tail visible to the naked eye next month.

But after NASA telescopes tracked the comet plunging into the sun’s corona, no evidence of it emerged on the other side. Scientists said they would continue to analyze imagery from the telescopes for signs of the comet or debris from it breaking up.

“At this point, I do suspect that the comet has broken up and died,” says Karl Battams, a comet scientist for the Naval Research Laboratory, who joined a NASA and Google+ chat from Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona. “Let’s at least give it a couple of more hours before we start writing the obituary.”

Even if the comet broke up, it offered a very rare opportunity to see how one of the oldest objects in the solar system interacted with the sun’s magnetic field.

The comet originated in the Oort Cloud, a region halfway from the sun to the next closest star. Scientists say comet ISON would have been nudged by gravity from other stars into its 5-million-year plunge toward the sun.

But while scientists have tracked other comets from the Oort Cloud, Battams said this one was the first in recorded astronomy from so far away that passed so close to the sun, passing the sun at a distance of about 1 million miles.

“This is a spectacularly rare event,” Battams said. “We have no idea when we’re going to see something this amazing again.”

The reason scientists study comets is to find out what they contain because they were born along with the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. When comets pass close enough to the sun, their ice melts away and dust gives off signals that describe its composition.

Even if comet ISON evaporated and broke apart near the sun, its behavior in the sun’s magnetic field will help scientists understand more about both comets and the sun.

“This gives us an opportunity to see and study these magnetic fields in a way we normally couldn’t do,” said Alex Young, a solar physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Nature is giving us this unique opportunity to study these magnetic fields.”

ISON, pronounced ice-on, stands for International Scientific Optical Network. It was discovered in September 2012 by a pair of amateur astronomers in Russia.

Two NASA telescopes that tracked the comet’s approach to the sun were called SOHO, for Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, and SDO, the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

SOHO has a metal coin that blocks out the sun’s direct light, so that the corona of fountains of magnetic field can be seen splashing off the sun. Comet ISON was visible in SOHO’s red-and-blue images as it approached the sun with a long tail.

But as it approached its closest point to the sun at 1:48 p.m. ET, the half-mile point of the comet faded and the tail thousands of miles across became fuzzier. That suggested it might have broken up.

“We’re not really seeing the head of the comet,” Phil Plait, an astronomer and author who writes for Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog, said of a SOHO image taken at 12:24 p.m. “That to me looks like the \\nucleus broke up.”

SDO, which showed the sun in ultraviolet light as a smoldering yellow marble, glimpsed comet ISON racing toward the sun. But as SDO shifted to watch the comet reappear on the other side, ISON never showed.

This was puzzling because Dean Pesnell, a solar physicist and project scientist for SDO, said even if the comet broke up, its remains should have been visible in the magnetic field for 45 minutes.

“I’d like to know what happened to our half-mile of material that was going around the sun,” Pesnell said of the comet. “We should be able to see something.”

Scientists said they would continue to review images from 11 telescopes worldwide that tracked the comet, to learn what became of it and learn more about the sun.


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