Over the next couple of weeks we will be hosting two public forums, one to be held this weekend entitled 'Universal Health Insurance' and the next on February 9th entitled 'Unite 4 our planet' which asks if an integrated approach can help tackle climate change (more on that later in this post).
This weekend's forum will be chaired by our Health Spokesperson Deputy Jan O'Sullivan in Dublin's Mansion House beginning at 10.30am and finishing up at 1.30pm.
The forum will be of particular relevance to anybody with an interest in or involved with the health services.
Joanna Tuffy TD with the giant 'Pearl of Wisdom', at the Irish launch of European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. The European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is promoted in Ireland by the Irish Family Planning Association. (Photo by Jason Clarke Photography)
This week marks the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 21st - 26th) which aims to promote better awareness of all aspects of cervical cancer and how women can prevent it by having regular smear tests.
I was delighted to be asked by the Irish Family Planning Association to support its campaign by promoting their Pearl of Wisdom badge. In Europe a woman dies from cervical cancer every 18 minutes. At home in Ireland 180 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 73 women on average die from the disease each year. Considering that cervical cancer is a preventable disease this is shocking.
Following last night's Private Members vote where Minister Harney survived Labour's motion of no confidence it is clear, that the crisis facing our health service is not going away and action must be taken. The motion is not the end of Labour insisting the Minister be held accountable for her department.
Last night the Labour Party tabled a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health Mary Harney. You can see videos of the debate on our You Tube Channel and read more about it in our campaigns section.
Speaking about the motion on Morning Ireland the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore said: "There are times when people have to make the critical decision and step up to the table, this is one of them.
"We have seen an appalling litany of blunders in the health service. What happened in Portlaoise and apparently repeated albeit on a difference scale in Cork is the last straw. There has to be accountability for what is happening in our health service. The bucks tops with the Minister for Health."
The issue of failures in the breast cancer screening was once again raised in the Dáil during Leaders' Questions. Deputy Gilmore questioned the Taoiseach about aging radiology equipment in Portlaoise Hospital and in other hospitals around the country.
Quoting a number of health experts who were strongly critical of Government health policies Deputy Gilmore said: "These are people who cure people, who do their job responsibly. If this Government was doing as good a job in managing and running the health service as these people are in curing their patients we would not have the problems in the health service we have today.
Some 140 pharmacies have withdrawn methadone dispensing to 4,500 methadone patients
The 4,500 recovering heroin addicts who have had the methadone dispensing service provided to them by pharmacists withdrawn due to the ongoing dispute between the Health Service Executive and the Irish Pharmaceutical Union was the subject of Eamon Gilmore's Leaders' Questions in the Dail this morning.
During the exchange Deputy Gilmore said: "The withdrawal of this service has thrown them back into the ad hoc arrangement of drug treatment clinics which brings them back into the same type of environment and company which may have been responsible for their problems in the first instance.
Just days on from the Health Service Executive (HSE) announcement of a total ban on recruitment and replacement of staff in the health service the Minister for Health has dismissed suggestions that patients would suffer as a result of the ban. You can read more here at the Irish Times (subs required)
Since then we have received complaints relating to the staff shortages including no physiotherapist in one Dublin hospital department, no locum available to cover when a Senior House Officer (SHO) is ill, nursing placements cancelled in one major Dublin hospital, vacant dietician posts and no replacement staff in a rural geriatric hospitals where 28 staff out of 100 are on holiday.
at our 4 Days to Ensure a Better Health Service launch
Ruairi Quinn and Liz McManus were in the media centre today in election HQ to reveal new information obtained under Freedom of Information confirming that the FF/PD plan to build super private clinics on the grounds of public hospitals will cause serious problems for the public health service.
Ruairi said: "Fianna Fail and the PDs have given on the public health system. They simply don't believe that good quality health services can be delivered by a public health system where medical need, rather than ability to pay, determines the care a patient receives. Instead they want to turn public health into something the sockness industry can profit from.
Day 16 - As ever there were a number of things happening around the country on the election trail. Pat and the battlebus were in Carlow/Kilkenny and Tipperary North and South; while in Dublin Liz McManus and Ged Nash took a press conference on Labour's plan for ending the crisis in Accident and Emergency departments.
Speaking at the press conference Liz said: "Access to prompt and effective advice and treatment in decent conditions for those who suffer an accident or require urgent medical intervention should be a basic right in any developed society.