Austerity kills is the message of a study published by the ‘British Medical Journal’
Austerity measures could mean the dismantling of a large part of the Spanish health system and significantly damage the health of the population, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal on Thursday.
The authors of the report warn that if the trend does not change, there is a risk that Spain will experience a spiral of health problems that could mean an increase in infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.
One part of the research consisted of interviewing 34 doctors and nurses in Catalonia. The majority said they felt “shocked, numbed and disillusioned” about the cuts, and some expressed fears that the austerity measures would “kill people,” the researchers said.
The report highlighted that healthcare and social services cuts of almost 14 percent at the national level and of 10 percent at the regional level in 2012 had coincided with an increase in demand for care, especially on the part of senior citizens, the disabled and the mentally ill.
Researchers also identified an increase in cases of depression, alcoholism-related diseases and suicides in Spain since the crisis began.
“If no corrective measures are implemented, this could worsen with the risk of increases in HIV and tuberculosis, as we have seen in Greece, where healthcare services have had severe cuts, as well as the risk of a rise in drug resistance and spread of disease,” said Helena Legido-Quigley, a lecturer in global health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who worked on the study.
Pharmaceutical antidepressants are usually among a class of varied chemicals known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is the feel good central nervous system neurotransmitter that is produced in the body.
The phrase re-uptake inhibitor is confusing to most of us laypersons. Why does inhibiting a feel good chemical make someone feel less depressed?
The SSRIs purportedly modulate and redistribute serotonin, keeping it from being taken in by some neuron receptors and leaving that extra serotonin free for chemical synapse activity in the brain.
There are various SSRI drugs under several brand names such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Lexapro, Effexor, and Celexa. These drugs are commonly prescribed throughout the world for depression, anxiety, compulsive obsessive disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
They are also often prescribed to keep school kids “manageable.” Maybe the fluoride molecules in most SSRIs is supposed to keep them docile and dumb. But antidepressants among young people have been linked to many school shootings and other killing sprees, as well as suicides and suicide attempts.
Besides the standard pharmaceutical side effects of nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, insomnia, weight gain, and mania, a “black box” warning, which is meant for medical practitioners, states that SSRIs can cause suicidal and homicidal thought. Class action lawyers are getting more action.
The trade-off is for those side effects is way out of balance because the efficacy of these psychotropic drugs has been questioned and effectively challenged often.
Now, a recent study has disclosed the strangest side effect possible for a psychotropic drug: brittle bones.
Chill out and maybe break a leg
A recent March 2013 post by saveourbones.com featured the results of a 2007 Canadian study that determined the risk factor for fracturing bones was doubled among those using SSRIs.
According to the Canadian study: “Functional serotonin receptors and the serotonin transporter have been localized to osteoblasts and osteocytes, and serotonin seems to modulate the skeletal effects of parathyroid hormone and mechanical stimulation.”
Translation: Inhibiting serotonin from normal receptors has a negative impact on bone production.
This is compounded by the fact that people who are depressed tend to show higher markers of inflammation. Inflammation weakens bones and produces other chronic autoimmune diseases.
The “chill out” in this section’s title refers to the fact that a New England Journal of Medicine meta-analysis in 2008 had determined that efficacy reports on antidepressants were unreliable and misleading.
Even more damning was a report by psychologist Irving Kirsch, associate director of the Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School. Kirsh determined that for mild to moderate cases of depression, virtually all the SSRI positive changes were from the placebo effect and not the chemicals.
Some minor chemical efficacy was found among those with severe depression. But the majority of SSRI prescriptions are dispensed to a population with mild and moderate levels of depression or anxiety and disruptive classroom kids.
The trade-off with side effect potential is much more risk than result.
Natural remedies for depression
St. John’s wort is the most commonly accepted natural depression and anxiety relief herbal remedy. Homeopathic remedies should be determined by a trained homeopath. A controversial solution is the powerful herb Kratom. Find out more here:
Improving diet goes a long way for staying out of depression. Studies have determined that junk food consumers tend to be more depressed than healthy eaters. Include healthy fats, especially omega-3, in your healthy diet.
Sunshine exposure helps mood considerably. If seasonal conditions inhibit sunshine, blue or full spectrum indoor lighting may help. Exercise boosts serotonin production.
Do enough exercise for that feeling of well being, and make sure you get enough quality sleep. (http://www.naturalnews.com/026637_sleep_health_immune_system.html)
The needless death of Savita Halappanavar last year, after a Catholic hospital refused to terminate her doomed pregnancy, drew a worldwide outpouring of fury against the religious dogmatism that killed her.
But as I wrote at the time, Savita’s story was only the tip of the iceberg. What happened to her wasn’t a fluke or an aberration: it was and is the official policy of the church that if a pregnant woman’s life can be saved by abortion, it’s better to let two die than to save one.
It’s only by a stroke of good fortune that we haven’t had any Savitas in the U.S. (that I’m aware of, at least). It’s certainly no thanks to the church hierarchy. And that makes it especially ominous that the Catholic hospital system is quietly expanding its reach across the U.S., merging with or gobbling up many of its secular counterparts:
“We are starting to see what was rare in the past,” said Lisa Goldstein, who follows nonprofit hospitals for Moody’s Investors Service and predicts more such partnerships… About one-sixth of all patients were admitted to a Catholic hospital in 2010. In many smaller communities, the only hospital within miles is Catholic. (source)
This is still going on today, as Americans United reported in a blog post from last month about Catholic entities seeking to take over public medical institutions in Texas and Kentucky. And when the church takes over, they’re not reluctant to throw their weight around: Irin Carmon reports on Salon that an astonishing 52% of OB-GYNs at Catholic hospitals have reported clashing with church-run ethics committees over the proper treatment of women with complications from pregnancy.
This is bad for men too, since it cuts off their access to procedures like sterilization that these hospitals no longer provide. But as always, the burden of religious oppression falls most heavily on women, since it’s only women who are denied access to literally lifesaving medical care by Catholic dogma (not to mention access to emergency contraception if they’re raped).
I regard this as a more serious problem than most other manifestations of the anti-choice movement. The noisy protesters who cluster outside reproductive health clinics can frighten and harass, but they can’t actually, legally, prevent anyone from getting an abortion there or otherwise making use of the clinic’s services. On the other hand, buying up hospitals does make it possible for religious zealots to cut off women’s access to legal, essential medical care.
There’s only one solution to this, and it has to be a legal one. Just as businesses that serve the public can’t discriminate by religion in whom they hire or whom they serve, so too should hospitals be forbidden to pick and choose which procedures they’ll offer or which medicines they’ll dispense based on the decrees of a religious authority.
We wouldn’t tolerate a Jehovah’s Witness-run hospital that forbade blood transfusions, even for people rushed into the emergency room dying of blood loss. We wouldn’t tolerate a Muslim-run hospital where doctors and nurses refused to wash their hands based on their interpretation of Islamic modesty laws. We wouldn’t tolerate an evangelical Christian-run hospital that turned gay people away at the door. Just the same way, we should refuse to tolerate a Catholic-run hospital where the imperial decrees of a bishop mean that a woman dying of sepsis or eclampsia can’t get a life-saving abortion as long as there’s any detectable fetal heartbeat.
It doesn’t matter exactly how we implement this – the “hospital within a hospital” created in one case in Austin seems like a reasonable compromise. But this is something we have to insist on. Religious individuals can decide what care they want for themselves based on their beliefs. But in a secular nation like America, it should be absolutely illegal for a religious authority to turn any part of the public square into a private fiefdom and exercise power over the lives of people who haven’t voluntarily agreed to abide by those rules.
According to some folks out there, smokers and fat people are either: 1) a burdensome group sinking everyone with their medical costs, or 2) a dispensable group we should all just let die early. Welcome to the health care debate that’s taken Twitter by storm. The fight over applying lifestyle penalties is raging as lawmakers hash out details of the Affordable Care Act. With those two “high-risk” groups tallying about $243 billion in annual health care costs, some argue that “willfully unhealthy” people should be left alone to die early and save the system money, rather than being taxed or penalized. Others say smoking control and anti-obesity measures have proven effective and should be continued. Can’t we all just have a smoke and a pastry and get along?
It has published comparative figures on staffing levels in Ireland compared to their UK counterparts, and say they have also drawn together international evidence that confirms a reduction in nurse staffing levels “negatively affects patient care in terms of higher mortality rates, increased adverse events such as patient falls, medication and transfusion errors, and delays in treatment.”
It also found that inadequate staffing is associated with longer lengths of stay and increased rates of readmission, both of which lead to increased healthcare costs. It says that this research “showed that poor staffing levels increase the risk of burnout amongst nurses which in turn increases the risk of poorer patient care”.
The figures show that in elderly care wards in Ireland, there were 121.87 less total care hours available on the ward per week, compared to the UK. On medical wards, there was 131.25 less hours per week in comparison, while in surgical wards there was a deficit of 225 total care hours compared to the UK.
Admissions and assessment units had two less staff on at every part of the day compared to their equivalent in the UK.
Speaking today, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said that all of this evidence, coupled with the inquiry into deaths at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust which found that the period investigated was characterised by cuts in staff and changes in skills ratios, “cannot be left unchallenged”.
Our members, without exception, are under unbearable pressure striving to provide safe practice and safe care to their patients/clients.
It is now time for the Minister for Health and the Government to take stock, look at the evidence which confirms our staffing levels are unacceptably low and to acknowledge that where there are poor staffing levels, patients suffer. They must, once and for all, lift the recruitment ban on frontline staff and put the ‘health’ back into the health service.
Doran said that the INMO will now be seeking an early meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Health to present to them the results of this comparative study, together with the international research findings of the value of a registered nurse.
It will call upon them to initiate a process leading to safe nurse patient ratios in all areas of the Irish health care system.
Mental health inspectors have expressed extreme concern for the welfare of residents at a facility who have been deprived of essential therapies and are showing signs of severe institutionalised behaviour.
Inspectors from the Mental Health Commission found there was an “appalling” lack of therapy for residents with intellectual disabilities at St Senan’s Hospital in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Co Wexford.
Overall, they found the hospital could not in its present condition provide a suitable environment for the care and treatment of people with mental illness or an intellectual disability. The hospital, opened in 1870, is home to 43 residents. About 13 have intellectual disabilities. It is due to close by March 2013.
Inspectors reserved their harshest criticism over the care and treatment of residents with intellectual disabilities.
It said they were a very vulnerable group, most of whom were not able to communicate their needs and they were accommodated in very poor conditions.
“It was evident from observing the residents that maladaptive behaviours, self-stimulation, institutionalisation and withdrawal were prevalent, all issues that could be addressed by providing appropriate therapies and an appropriate environment,” inspectors found.
However, inspectors said they were impressed with the community mental health teams and the provision of a recovery-orientated service in the South Wexford sector. It is planned that residents at St Senan’s will be transferred to community-based care next year.
There was also criticism of conditions at the Waterford Regional Hospital’s department of psychiatry.
Inspectors described conditions at the busy acute unit – which provides inpatient care for Waterford and parts of Wexford and Kilkenny – as unsuitable and counter-therapeutic.
They welcomed the fact that building work was under way to provide an expanded unit with enhanced facilities.
But there was concern at the under-resourcing of mental health teams, which was affecting the provision of care.
“There was no provision of therapeutic activities in the acute area within the unit. No activities were available to residents other than watching television from their beds,” according to the report.
The petition which was organised by Amnesty International Ireland as part of its Right to Health campaign, which holds that everyone in Ireland has the right to health – and that the country committed to this when it became party to the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989.
The signatories of the petition have called on the Minister for Health to enshrine in law a commitment to provide equal access to healthcare based on the needs of the patient rather than their ability to pay.
“Government has set out an ambitious programme of reform. But the reality is that our health system is broken, people are still on waiting lists, and families are struggling to pay their increasing insurance premiums”, Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland, said today.
“Access to appropriate, affordable health services is a human right, and one which the Irish public are clearly demanding. Government reforms of the health service must be underpinned by human rights standards, including a legal guarantee that everybody will be able to access healthcare on an equal basis,” he added.
Amnesty International is calling on the Government to set out their plans on universal healthcare reform and to debate them publicly.
The human rights organisation also wants the Government to use the opportunity of the proposed Universal Primary Care Act and the Universal Health Insurance Act to set out clear – and human rights compliant – guiding principles for the health service including universal, equal access to care.
SPENDING IN Sligo Regional Hospital continues to be €800,000-plus per month over its approved budget, according to the latest figures released by the HSE last night (Tuesday).
However, finances in the hospital improved marginally — by a fifth of one percent — during September.
Sligo Regional is now listed 13th in Ireland — from 119 centres — for rates of absenteeism. General support staff, nursing and management/admin are the grades identified.
St Johns Hospital is also showing a budget overrun in excess of 10% for the year.
The ‘shave back’ and savings in Sligo Regional Hospital helped contribute to a national picture which saw the HSE’s overall deficit for 2012 drop back to €399 million — it’s first drop.
Sligo Regional Hospital has spent €7.4 million more than its allocated budget in the first nine months of 2012, last night’s official statistics confirm.
The Hospital has now exceeded its annual budget by 10.5%, states the HSE Performance Report for September.
Statistics for Sligo Regional Hospital reveal that by September 30th it had spent €78.4 million of its entire 2012 budget of €92.3 million.
The budget allocated by the Department of Health for 2012 suggested that Sligo Regional Hospital should have been able to get by with €70.9 million between January 1st and September 30th.
In St John’s Hospital, the accumulated budget overrun for the year now stands at €1.3 million — a 10.2% overrun.
St Johns show heavy spending on agency costs for staff in medical/dental; it accounted for 23% of payroll costs in September.
The Minister for Health, Dr Reilly, has iterated all year that there will be no bail-out for HSE or hospitals running over budget.
The Government has been under some pressure from The Troika, which oversees Ireland’s bailout. It has criticised spending on health.
The Irish Times reports this morning that the Government has agreed “to comply by the end of the month with a request from the EU-IMF troika for a detailed plan to tackle the spending overrun in the health service.”
RTE has, however, offered a glimmer of hope; unexpended capital budgets in 2012 may be considered for reallocation to current-side budgets, the station’s Health Correspondent Fergal Bowers indicated last night on television.
Fianna Fáil’s Health spokesman Billy Kelleher separately predicted the Minister “will move to ‘shore up’ his budget failings by moving unspent money from his Department’s capital allocation to current spending.”
A nursing union leader, Liam Doran of the INMO, said that talk of budget overruns was ”an accountants exercise.” The original budget was wholly inadequate, he said.
Criticism of budget overrun was “unfair, misguided and unwarranted,” added Mr Doran, who praised staff for “heroic” efforts.
The leading Labour Party councillor in Sligo, Cllr Jim McGarry, has also queried in past fortnight whether Sligo Regional Hospital has been under funded by the Government. See SligoToday.ie 5/11/2012
No Specific Reference
There is no specific reference to Cregg House in the Performance Report released last night.
Page 40 deals with an update assessment titled: ”Service Arrangements and Grant Aid Agreements.”
It remains unclear if this section — unlikely — includes any reference to the ongoing impasse between the HSE and the Daughters of Wisdom at Cregg House.
The Performance Report states: ”….Of the 27 Non Acute Agencies in receipt of over €10 million in the non acute sector, 14 have completed, with the remainder all indicating that they will sign with the exception of a single provider.”
This single provider, adds the Report, ”is in negotiations on whether they will continue to provide services.”
The Report speaks of “cost containment issues,” in particular in HSE dealings with disability agencies.
The Daughters six months ago publicly highlighted an issue of under funding in a proposed renewal of its Service Level Agreement (SLA) and said they could not continue.
In the past two months the Daughters again re-stated their commitment to leave after 57 years but offered an extension to January to the HSE.
The Performance Reports provides the most up-to-date picture of what is happening at all levels inside Irish hospitals, community services and the HSE itself.
In comparison, the report released Monday by the Economic, Social and Research Institute (ESRI) — which assessed hospitals including Sligo Regional Hospital — refers only to 2011 and an historical analysis of data.
They Reports are released online each month after all data and commentary for the relevant month has first been sent to the Minister for Health.
Sligo Regional is highlighted in the Performance Report for high levels of absenteeism. It is 13th in the country on a rolling assessment over three months up to August.
Cregg House is placed 112th in a list of 119 named centres, while Roscommon County Hospital is 7th in Irish health settings for absenteeism.
The absenteeism issue in Sligo is once again ‘flagged’ in the summary comment to the Minister.
General support staff (9.75%), nursing staff (7.39%) and and management/admin (6.48%) absenteeism rates in Sligo Regional Hospital all far exceed the national average of 4.7% for the three month rolling period under review.
No reasons are offered in the Performance Report, or elsewhere, as to why absenteeism — and across several grades — remains high in Sligo Regional Hospital.
The Performance Report indicates that nine in every ten incidents of absenteeism is certified — 89.8%
Finally, 1.8 million medical cards had been issued by October 1st — almost 40,000 more than were planned in budgets for 2012, says the Performance Report.
Detailed plans for the future of the health service, which will see free GP care for all introduced in 2015 to be followed by the promised universal health insurance scheme, were announced yesterday. The plans set out target times for implementing 48 reforms, culminating in the introduction of universal health insurance in 2016.
While many of the elements of the Future Health document published Miniser Reilly yesterday are in the programme for government, he pointed out concrete timeframes were being provided for the first time.
The plans will see a new patient safety agency next year and a health and wellbeing agency in 2015. BreastCheck cancer screening will be extended to 65-69 year-old women in 2014, while the first round of the colorectal cancer screening programme for men/women of this age group will have been completed by the end of 2015.
The document anticipates the controversial reorganisation of services by hospital groups, although the Minister indicated this would be done on a trial basis at first.
A series of financial reforms will see control of health spending return from the HSE to the Department of Health in 2014 and the introduction of new financial management systems aimed at controlling costs. The HSE is currently €400 million over budget. Dr Reilly said he wanted to see “aggressive” cost control in the health insurance market with payments being made per medical procedure rather than based on the number of nights a patient spends in hospital.
Health Innovation Hub launches to help healthcare companies create solutions faster – Irish Innovation News – Siliconrepublic.com
Michael Fitzgerald, CEO of Abtran, one of the companies participating in the Health Innovation Hub demonstrator project
A new healthcare project has launched in Cork today to bring together six healthcare companies with the health system and academia in order to help such companies move faster on developing products and services.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, and the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, TD, launched the new Health Innovation Hub project at University College Cork (UCC) today.
The project, which has been based on international models, such as the North Carolina Research Triangle, is aiming to progress healthcare technologies.
The idea is to help healthcare companies deliver commercial products and services more quickly by giving them access to the health service in order to test products in a real-life environment. Another aim of the project is to allow the health service to become more efficient by enabling the HSE and hospitals to engage and participate with companies that are creating solutions.
Six Irish healthcare companies will now be taking part in the demonstrator project. They include Abtran, which is working on a GP referral system in hospitals to reduce costs, improve waiting lists and improve patient care. Arann Healthcare is working with Cork University Hospital to develop a mattress sterilisation product.
Helix Health is pioneering an electronic prescription service to send prescriptions automatically from GPs to pharmacies. Radisens Diagnostics is working with hospitals to develop technology to allow GPs to take and process blood tests in their surgeries.
Rigney Dolphin is working with Cork University Hospital (CUH) to develop a post-discharge patient telephone follow-up programme. The aim is to help prevent avoidable re-admissions and to improve continuity of care. Sláinte Healthcare is developing paperless testing data with the Warfarin Clinic at CUH.
A collaborative venture between Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the HSE, Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork, the hub is being driven by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Health.
Dave Shanahan, head of strategic health initiatives at Abbott and national project team chairman, said Ireland is now recognising the “critical role” the national healthcare system has in supporting domestic innovation and commercialisation.
“The global healthcare market of US$2.5trn requires ongoing product and service innovation. Ireland, with its unique concentration of pharmaceutical, medical device and ICT industries, is uniquely placed to exploit this market, provided we join up all elements of the value chain,” he said.
They’re calling him Reilly: Ace of Lies.
This week’s motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health is the only credible response to the reality of what is happening under James Reilly. Before the election he personally led a deeply cynical campaign on health. He promised that he and Fine Gael would make sure that no one lost any services and a whole new set of free services would be provided.
After running a briefing campaign to protect his budget he announced that he had enough money to fully deliver his service commitments.
We never believed this and have been relentless during this year in questioning him about services and budgets. He repeatedly assured us and the Dáil that everything was fine under his personal management. He repeated like a mantra that frontline services were being protected.
This was untrue and health services are now being subject to a round of mean-spirited emergency cuts which Minister Reilly was denying while already implementing them.
Before the full force of his management has had its impact, waiting lists are rising, services are being closed and there is a deep sense of despair in the sector.
There is no precedent for a situation where the Taoiseach praises a minister for being brave in reversing cuts while the Minister is still claiming that the cuts never existed.