News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 5th March 2015

See how your local hospital fared on heart attack deaths and strokes

  

A report from the Department of Health has published a report naming hospitals and showing their death rates.

The department of Health has, for the first time, published a report that compares death rates in hospitals and names the hospitals.

The report details deaths from heart attacks and stroke as well as waiting times for certain procedures, cancer survival rates and the rates of Caesarean sections at maternity units.

In a statement today, the department’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan said patients “have the right to know the type of information contained in this report”.

“Ultimately it will help to improve services and patient outcomes and it will, I hope, commence a public discussion on these important issues.”

Reports like this empower patients and service users to make informed decisions about their health care, help health care providers to improve their performance through benchmarking with other services, and they facilitate system-wide quality improvement in health care by informing national policies.

The table below, taken from the report, shows the rates of death in the various hospitals within 30 days of admission for a heart attack:

It shows the highest rates are at Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Cavan General Hospital and Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown. The lowest rates are seen at Midland Regional is Portlaoise.

For ischaemic stroke, the hospitals with the highest rate between 2011 and 2013 were Cavan General Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

Overall in-hospital death rates have been dropping in the last ten years, however:

Caesarean section rates were highest for St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, followed by Mayo General Hospital and lowest for Sligo General Hospital.

Details on cancer survival rates for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers were also included in the report as well as waiting times for hip fracture surgery, which haven’t changed much in the last ten years.

Today Dr Holohan pointed out that there is no such thing as “perfect data” but the indicators presented in this report “signal to us that certain services require further analysis and examination in order to identify if a problem exists”.

One can draw on the analogy of a smoke alarm going off. Further investigation may reveal a faulty smoke alarm or an actual fire.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar welcomed the publication of the report, saying he is a strong believer in transparency and open data.

“As they say, if you don’t measure it, you cannot improve it and without regular measurement and reporting you cannot know if your policies and reforms are actually making a positive difference.”

The Mental health review will change patient interaction with Irish health services

 

Kathleen Lynch says changes in controversial ECT to be implemented before summer

Under the proposals from the expert group report, it will no longer be possible to administer the controversial ECT to a person who has capacity and does not consent to the treatment.

A major review of health legislation due to be published today will change how people suffering with mental health issues interact with services on offer, says Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.

Ms Lynch said that she hoped to see the changes in how electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is administered to patients before the summer recess.

“There’s already a bill in the Senate and the first day I was in this job I dealt with this bill and on that occasion said that at the very first opportunity we would deal with the administration of ECT.”

Under the proposals from the expert group report, it will no longer be possible to administer the controversial ECT to a person who has capacity and does not consent to the treatment.

At present, the mental health Act states that ECT may be administered where a patient is “unable or unwilling” to give consent once it has been approved by two consultant psychiatrists.

“I’ve always believed, and the experts tell me.., that in relation to ECT it can be helpful in certain circumstances,” said Ms Lynch. “But where someone has capacity and says no, I don’t want that treatment, then we have to listen to that and that’s what they will be doing.”

“I’m glad to see that they’ve [expert panel]come up with the recommendations which will change, not just our legislation governing mental health, but it will change how people who have difficulties with their mental health interact with the service.”

The current legislation is regarded by many campaigners as outdated given the growing emphasis on care in the community and demands for greater autonomy by patient groups.

Ms Lynch said careful steps must be taken when amending the current legislation to reflect patients’ rights.

“We’ll have to be very careful about how it dovetails with the assisted decision making capacity legislation,” she said, adding that she hopes to see the other recommendations from the report implemented before the Government leaves office.

The report contains a total of 165 proposals which seek to strengthen patients’ rights, extend the remit of watchdog bodies and place greater emphasis on children’s services.

Ms Lynch said today’s health legislation review will follow on from the Government’s mental health policy A Vision for Change, adding that the public perception of mental health has changed since the document was published in 2006.

“I have to say A Vision for Change has had a greater impact on how we view people with mental health issues and how they’re treated as well,” she said. “I think the recovery element, which is embedded in A Vision for Change, has in fact changed. The perception of mental health has changed how practitioners view people.”

Asked to comment on reports that an offer of € 100 per child for GPs has been made as part of the negotiations relating to free GP care for children under the age of 6, Ms Lynch said she was not part of the “fee sitting element” of the discussions.

“We’ve just been informed of the global figure which the negotiators have been negotiating around and as you probably know that’s € 25 million.”

Ms Lynch said she trusted GPs to always deliver the best possible care to their patients.

“I believe GPs want to deliver the best service to their patients and have been doing it for as long as we’ve had the GMS service in this country.”

Gender pay gap between men and women in Ireland goes up to 14.4%

 

Eurostat figures show inequality pay gap figures in salaries in EU as high as almost 30%.

Data from Eurostat, the European Union’s official statistics body, reveal women earned almost a sixth less per hour than men in 2012, up from 12.6% in 2008.

The pay gap between men and women in Ireland has widened in recent years, with women earning 14.4% less than men for their work, most recent figures show.

Data from Eurostat, the European Union’s official statistics body, reveal women earned almost a sixth less per hour than men in 2012, up from 12.6% in 2008.

On average across the EU in 2013, women earned 16.4% less than men, but the gender pay gap ranged from 3.2% in Slovenia to 29.9% in Estonia.

Eurostat said there were various reasons for the existence and size of a gender pay gap and that they may differ strongly between member states. They include the kind of jobs held by women, the consequences of breaks in career or part-time work due to childbearing and decisions in favour of family life.

Tackling inequality

New Eurobarometer statistics also published on Thursday suggested a large majority of Irish (81%) and EU (76%) citizens believe that tackling inequality between women and men should be a priority for the EU.

Some 94% of Irish respondents and 91% of EU respondents in the survey agreed that tackling inequality between men and women was necessary to establish a fairer society.

Some 59% of Irish and EU respondents said violence against women, especially sexual violence, was the area the EU should address most urgently.

Some 68 per cent of female respondents across the EU believed inequalities were widespread in their country, while 57%of male respondents believed this to be the case.

Just over half of all respondents in Ireland (54%) believed inequalities between men and women were widespread in the country, while the figure across the European Union was 62%.

Although the figure for Ireland is lower than the EU average, it has seen the highest rise (+11 percentage points) since 2009 when it was 43%.

Effective methods

When asked about the most effective ways to tackle gender inequality and increase the number of women in the labour market, Irish respondents at 52% were most likely to say making childcare more accessible. The EU average was 36%.

The fieldwork for the Eurobarometer survey was carried out last November and December. Some 27,801 interviews were carried out across the European Union, with 1,003 of those taking place in Ireland.

Scientists now create a new tough resilient self-cleaning paint

 

Researchers from University College London have developed a resilient super-hydrophobic paint, impervious to water and oils, that cleans itself

A new paint that makes robust self-cleaning surfaces has been developed by a team led by UCL researchers.

The coating can be applied to clothes, paper, glass and steel and when combined with adhesives, maintains its self-cleaning properties after being wiped, scratched with a knife and scuffed with sandpaper.

Self-cleaning surfaces work by being extremely repellent to water but often stop working when they are damaged or exposed to oil.

The new paint creates a more resilient surface that is resistant to everyday wear and tear, so could be used for a wide range of real-world applications from clothing and cars, say the researchers.

Mars once had an ocean bigger than the Arctic Ocean on Earth

   

NASA scientists have analysed the water signatures in Mars’ atmosphere to determine that the planet once had a primitive ocean bigger than the Arctic Ocean on Earth.

The question about water on Mars has shifted from “was there?” to “how much?” According to the latest research from NASA, the answer is “a lot.”

After conducting a ground-based analysis of the water in the Red Planet’s atmosphere, a team led by Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has determined that not only was Mars once home to an ocean bigger than the Arctic Ocean, but also how much of that water has been lost.

“Our study provides a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had, by determining how much water was lost to space,” Villanueva said. “With this work, we can better understand the history of water on Mars.”

The volume of this ocean, which existed some 4.3 billion years ago, would have been at least 20 million cubic kilometres (5 million cubic miles). The Arctic Ocean has a volume of just over 18 million cubic kilometres.

On Mars, this volume would have been sufficient to cover the planet’s entire surface in a liquid layer 137 metres (450 feet) deep — however, the more likely scenario is that the ocean covered almost half of the planet’s northern hemisphere, the low-lying Northern Plains — around 19 percent of the surface of Mars — reaching depths of 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) in places.

The team used the European Southern Observatory’s powerful Very Large Telescope in Chile, and the W.M. Keck Observatory and NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii to examine two different types of water in Mars’ atmosphere: H2O, which makes up most of the water on Earth; and HDO, or “heavy water,” in which one of the hydrogen atoms is replaced with a heavy hydrogen isotope called deuterium, which can be found in unusually high proportions on the Mars surface.

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