New test for cancer treatment successful in allowing doctors to more accurately prescribe chemo treatment – Harris
Posted March 21st, 2013
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris, has today welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, that the Oncotype DX test which is used to test whether cancer patients would benefit from gruelling chemotherapy treatment, has been a great success.
“As the first country in Europe to make this test available through the public health service, Ireland has led the way in determining the best course of treatment for cancer patients by carrying out the Oncotype DX test. This test determines whether newly diagnosed cancer patients would benefit from chemotherapy, which can be a long and gruelling treatment.
“The results from these tests are very encouraging, with 409 women being tested in the public health service between October 2011 and December 2012. As a result, 309 women were deemed not to require chemotherapy and avoided the significant toxicity of several months of chemotherapy.
“Not only has this prevented patients going through chemotherapy, but it has also proved an extremely cost effective measure as the health service saved money on unnecessary treatments.
“On taking office two years ago, we took on an embattled health service and promised to reform it so that the people of Ireland can have access to a world class service. This is another example of how putting the needs of the patient first while using the latest technology not only benefits patients, but the cuts the costs of unnecessary treatment.”
Posted March 7th, 2013
I have been a long-time admirer and supporter of the work of St. Catherine’s in Wicklow. It has provided a life line to so many families with children with special needs. I have visited the services on a number of occasions over the last few years and have seen first hand the brilliant work being done.
In the last few weeks, issues have come to the fore regarding serious problems with both corporate governance and financial management within the organisation. It is important to stress that everything by the organisation was done in the interests of children. However, lack of adequate governance structures and financial controls have now resulted in a very serious situation arising which was threatening the very continuance of St. Catherine’s.
I am aware that a new Board of Directors has been working day and night to try and rectify these problems and to put the organisation on a stable financial footing. I want to commend all those involved in that work.
The HSE are currently working with this new Board of Directors to put in place an effective “rescue plan” for the services.
Today, Department of Education officials will meet with management of St. Catherine’s and I think this is a very important step.
On Monday evening, a meeting will be held for parents of children in St. Catherine’s to meet with the Board and to receive an update on the situation.
I want to assure the people of Wicklow and most particularly parents of children in St. Catherine’s that I will be working tirelessly on this issue alongside the other 4 Wicklow TDs and all stakeholders to protect the services – residential, respite and educational.
Yesterday in the Dáil, I along with colleagues raised the importance of St. Catherine’s and the 5 Wicklow TDs also plan to meet with the Minister for Disability Services next week.
This is not about a “government cut” or the HSE trying to shut services. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. It has been repeatedly stated by Government and by the HSE that services must and will continue and that is the absolute priority of all those involved in working on this issue.
To the 58 people who lost their jobs, no words of mine will in any way numb that pain. All I will say is that I am so sorry that this has happened and that I have heard countless accounts of your commitment, superb work and dedication.
There are many outstanding questions for which there are as yet no definitive answers. The message I want parents to have though is that if we all work together on this we can, in the first instance, stabilise the organisation and ensure the secure retention of all St. Catherine’s service and then look at rebuilding where necessary important supports that are needed for these children.
The care and education provided by St. Catherine’s is something that is treasured by families in Wicklow and beyond and I will work to secure these provisions.
Posted January 23rd, 2013
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris has urged women in Wicklow between 25 and 60 years of age to avail of a free smear test from a registered GP or Women’s Health or Family Planning Clinic of their choice.
Deputy Harris made his comments to mark European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. The National Cervical Screening Programme which provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60, is funded by the Department of Health.
“I wish to take the opportunity of European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to encourage all women aged between 25 and 60 to avail of free cervical smear tests. The test could save your life, as early detection can lead to successful treatment. All you need is a PPS number. It is completely free,” said Deputy Harris.
“Over 300 Irish women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and over 90 lives are lost every year. The good news is that regular cervical screening helps identify cervical cancer at an early stage and the cervical smear tests are available free of charge at over 1,400 locations nationwide.
“Cervical cancer takes a long time to develop and often has no symptoms until it is at an advanced stage. A smear test is the only way to ensure that any abnormal cells in the cervix are detected early and treated early, preventing the development of cervical cancer. Cervical screening is the most effective method of reducing a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.
“Thousands of GPs, practice nurses, Women’s Health, Family Planning and Well Woman Clinics all over Ireland are registered to provide smear tests. You can see a full list in the ‘Find a smeartaker – doctor’ section of the www.cervicalcheck.ie. If you have any questions you can call CervicalCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted November 22nd, 2012
Wicklow fine Gael TD Simon Harris has today (Thursday) welcomed news of a hearing screening programme for newborns in the Dublin Mid-Leinster Health Area which covers County Wicklow.
Deputy Harris stated ‘This is a welcome development as it will provide early detection of any hearing issues newborns might experience that could hinder their development. These measures will also provide peace of mind for parents who will be able to avail of this programme for their children.
‘In Ireland, one to two babies in every thousand are born with hearing loss. These screening measures allow for quicker response in terms of developing speech and language skills in those early years.
‘The introduction of this programme is a welcome development and I hope and expect that it will be of significant help to the newborn children whom it is aimed at.’
Posted September 21st, 2012
Finally, Ireland will have modern legislation respectfully addressing how the State interacts with vulnerable adults – The offensive “Lunancy Act” of 1798 to be replaced at long last
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Justice that new mental capacity legislation will be published in the Dáil by the end of the year. This new legislation will be the first piece of legislation in our country’s post-independent history addressing how the law interacts with vulnerable adults and will replace the “Lunancy Act” which dates from the 18th Century.
Speaking on this issue, Deputy Harris said, “Finally this country is about to step into the 21st Century with new legislation which is respectful, tolerant and inclusive of the needs of vulnerable adults in Ireland in terms of how the law interacts with them. This has been a long time coming and I am delighted that we will now deliver on this issue.”
“Minister Shatter has informed me in the Dáil that the Mental Capacity Bill will be published before the end of the year and the drafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage. Furthermore, he has assured me that this legislation will take into account the Law Reform Commission’s report and recommendations in this area,” stated Deputy Harris.
“The enactment of new mental capacity legislation is one of the core elements of remaining work to be completed to enable Ireland to ratify the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I look forward to this Bill progressing through the Oireachtas and contributing to this important debate,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted September 21st, 2012
Press Release from Simon Harris
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, that the national bowel cancer screening programme will be introduced on a phased basis from the end of this year.
‘Bowel cancer accounts for a significant number of deaths in Ireland each year. The introduction of a national screening programme is fantastic news for Wicklow residents as screening of this disease dramatically improves the prospects for early detection and therefore for survival. I am pleased to receive confirmation from the Minister for Health that roll-out will begin in the final quarter of this year, delivering on a Government commitment to introduce bowel cancer screening in 2012.’
‘Free screening will be offered to men and women aged 55-74 every two years. As 50% of cancers within this age group are found in people aged 60-69, the programme will begin with this age cohort. The programme will also be the first to include screening for men.’
‘The introduction of bowel cancer screening is a vital development in advancing our fight against cancer. I am hopeful that these measures will improve the quality of life of many people as well as saving lives over the coming years.’ Concluded Deputy Harris
Posted September 7th, 2012
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris welcomed the Government commitment to introduce a bowel cancer screening programme.
‘Each year in Ireland 2000 people are diagnosed with Bowel cancer and over 900 die from it. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland and it is treatable if caught at an early stage.’
‘The implementation of a screening programme would greatly enhance the chances of detecting and therefore treating Bowel cancer. This will save lives as well as freeing up resources that can be used to deal with other acute medical and cancer related health concerns.’
‘I will be pursuing this with the Minister and in the Dail in the coming months.’ Concluded Deputy Harris
Posted August 10th, 2012
Wicklow TD receives confirmation that palliative care services will be restored throughout all of County Wicklow on Monday, 13th August but calls for vacant posts to be filled urgently to prevent situation occuring again
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris has received confirmation from the HSE that palliative care services will be restored throughout all parts of County Wicklow from next Monday, 13th August.
Deputy Harris had made several representations to the HSE and to the Minister for Health arguing that a decision taken unilaterally by the HSE to suspend palliative care services in North Wicklow was “completely unacceptable, absolutely reckless and a contravention of Government policy.”
Speaking after receiving the news that the HSE will now restore services county-wide, Deputy Harris said, “I am pleased that palliative care services will be restored throughout County Wicklow from next Monday. This will come as a relief to many families who may find themselves reliant on these services. However, we cannot overlook the fact that the HSE made the decision to temporarily suspend services in North Wicklow due to their own failure to plan and to fill vital nursing vacancies.”
“We cannot have a situation where a palliative care service is suspended due to nursing shortages. There is no Government recruitment embargo in place for such important, frontline positions. The HSE held interviews for a Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Wicklow palliative care service back in March yet they have delayed appointing someone to this vacancy. This is simply not on. I have conveyed this in the strongest possible terms to the HSE and I have also informed the Minister for Health of this irresponsible behaviour by the HSE at a national level,” stated Deputy Harris.
“I have now been assured that the HSE expects extra nursing resources for the County Wicklow palliative care service to be in place very shortly and I will be actively pursuing this matter this happens,” concluded Deputy Harris.
HSE must fill Clinical Nurse Specialist vacancy urgently and restore Palliative Care Services in North Wicklow
Posted August 8th, 2012
Health Service Executive has no right to “dilly dally” on the filling of this vital post – their failure to do so is inexcusable and reckless
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris has said that the HSE must immediately set about filling the Clinical Nurse Specialist vacancy in County Wicklow so that palliative care services in the north of the county can be very quickly restored.
Deputy Harris said that it was “inexcusable and in contravention with Government policy that the HSE would leave such an important post on the frontline of community nursing vacant for such a period of time as to arise at a point where they feel the need to suspend temporarily palliative care services in a part of Wicklow”
!I have been informed that interviews to fill this vacant nursing post took place in March of this year yet the HSE has dragged its heels on making this appointment. It is not the job of the HSE to make health policy – that is the job of Government and there is no policy suggesting that this position should be vacant. In fact, the exact opposite is national policy – frontline nursing positions can and must be filled,” stated Deputy Harris.
“The HSE failed to inform me of their reckless decision to suspend palliative care in north Wicklow. I was informed by local GPS who received a letter from the HSE, Upon receipt of this news, I have now written to the Regional Director of the HSE in Dublin-MidLeinster asking that this vacancy be filled and that the dilly-dallying in this regard ends. I have also written to the Minister for Health informing him of this reality for people in Wicklow and asking that he contact the HSE immediately to instruct them to get on with the appointment of this important post,” added Deputy Harris.
“I will apply all the possible pressure, along with local GPs to resolve this unacceptable, bureaucratic mess and the fear and worry it has caused for families,” concluded Deputy Harris
Posted July 13th, 2012
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has said the scale of savings needed across the HSE will require innovative thinking, drive and commitment to implement. Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Harris said the various departments across the HSE must work together in order to produce meaningful savings.
Deputy Harris said, “When we talk about the issue of health, it is vital to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of the many nurses, doctors and health care assistants who work in our hospitals and health centres, getting on with the job in spite of financial constraints. These are professionals who do excellent work in providing a top standard of care.”
“Nevertheless, there are wider problems in our health systems which experience has shown us we cannot fix with money alone. We need a strategic approach to introducing reform and better management. Fine Gael committed to introducing this when we came into Government, and even after a period of only 15 or 16 months real progress has been made, for example tackling waiting lists.”
“A lot more remains to be done however, and tackling the HSE budget overrun will be crucial in achieving this. We must stop looking at the HSE in little silos, and encourage different departments to work together to achieve the necessary savings. Procurement is one area where we need to change our approach to ensure that we get value for money while cutting costs.”
“To use a simplistic example, a procurement section might decide that instead of buying a bandage for €12, it would buy one for €2, thereby saving €10 but that bandage might need to be changed by a community nurse who would visit a person in his or her home every day or every second day rather than once a week and the impact of that is not taken into account. We need people to examine the whole health care impact, the impact on the patient and the saving across the system.”
“This is one area I will be continuing to monitor closely through my role on the Public Accounts Committee to ensure that taxpayers receive value for money and that savings are made within the HSE.”