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Electric Ireland Calls A Halt To ‘Hello Again World’.

The Chief Medical Officer has urged, older people in particular, to reconnect with the rest of the world, some three years on from the first case of Covid-19 having been confirmed in Ireland.
In an open letter addressed to older people in Ireland, as part of a multimedia campaign ‘Hello Again World’, Professor Breda Smyth addresses the isolation and loneliness experienced by older people during the pandemic, saying: “If you haven’t yet returned to doing the things that you love, I am encouraging you to do so now.”

By this latter remark, we must assume that Professor Smyth would like older people to get out, buy a coffee; buy a lunch; visit the cinema; go to a show; attend a football or hurling game, buy a pint in their local licenced hostelry, etc.

No doubt Professor Smyth is correct, however obviously, this very capable lady has not seen her ESB bill so far this month.

The ‘Electric Ireland’ bill shown above was forwarded to us by a 76 year old male pensioner and same should help to explain our headline above.

But first, who is ‘Electric Ireland’?
Electric Ireland is the retail division of ESB (Electricity Supply Board). ESB was established in 1927 as a statutory corporation in the Republic of Ireland and the majority of shares are held by the Irish Government.
Previously known as ESB Customer Supply and ESB Independent Energy, the retail division of ESB has been rebranded to Electric Ireland in 2012. Recognised as Ireland’s leading energy provider, Electric Ireland supplies electricity, gas and energy services to over 1.2 million households and 95,000 businesses in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

IrelandNo Country for Old Men or Women

From the 76 year old male pensioner, who wishes to remain anonymous, so we will call him Pat; we glean from him in a one-to-one discussion the following information:-
Pat lives alone in a small terraced house having worked, nonstop, all his working life since 1967.
His current income is a weekly pension of €260.10, per week, [1,040.40 per month or €13,525.20 per year].
He pays local property tax at the lower rate of €90.
He is a car owner, 08 reg, Insurance €420, Road Tax €280. He spends €20 on petrol each week to attend Mass, Shop for groceries, and for attending at a medical clinic. One car service and 4 new tyres, this year cost him €798. Seperately a set of windscreen wipers fitted cost €38.
He has no electric cooker and no electric shower. He cooks his main meal on a gas cooker which costs €540 per year.
He owns one electric heater but has not used same since electricity prices increased.
His heating outside his living room is a Superser Radiant Gas Heater, purchased at a cost of €160, [Used sparingly to heat his bedroom, the renewal of this second gas cylinder costs also €35 per month or €420 per year.
He claims no fuel allowance from the state, since he gets a gift of timber for his living room fire from a farming neighbours.
He no longer eats breakfast, eating only two meals each day; a toasted sandwich for lunch using a electric sandwich maker, or an omelette using an electric omelette maker.
His heating outside his living room is a Superser Radiant Gas Heater, purchased at a cost of €160, [Used sparingly to heat his bedroom, the renewal of his gas cylinder costs €35 per month or €420 per year.
Internet and Mobile Phone costs €40 per month.
He was forced to replace his television in the last year and his washing machine, due to their age, at a total cost of €790.
His groceries, including meat, averages around €100 per week.
Non prescription creams costs him €26 per month.
He attended two family weddings last year, on which he spent €390 to buy footwear and clothing and €300 on wedding gifts.
A daily copy of a cheap newspaper cost him €547.50.
Last Summer Pat was forced to paint the outer walls of his home. Paint and labour cost €480.
Christmas gifts to family and close friends cost €208, mostly spent on confectionary items on adults friends and cheap toys for grandchildren.

Pat admits that his current savings amount to €129.22.
His next Electric Ireland Bill is €959.72, less Electric Ireland Credit of €45.87 and less Government Electricity credit 2 of €183.49; thus leaving the total amount due on an estimated bill at €717.84 due to be paid by March 9th 2023.

We totted up Pat’s expenses, revealing annual expenditure of €12,880.50 and savings of €129.22. We asked what he had spent the odd remaining €516 on.

His reply was that €365 went on the collection plate at Mass on a Saturday night and the remainder was possibly given away on donations in lieu of flowers at a few friends funerals, in support of various charities; “Oh and I bought a 3 pack of electric bayonet led light bulbs in Dunnes Stores, last Monday; they cost €9 something”, he quickly interjected.

“So how do you intend to pay your next ESB bill?” we asked.
“I can’t, so they will possibly cut me off,” came the reply, “but candles are cheap, the Summer is coming and as long as I can afford batteries for my radio I’ll survive. As the film title said ‘This is no country for old men’ or indeed old women for that matter”, he added, “and the next General Election, will be held, at the very latest, by March 2025, if not before, by the will of the people, and if I live until then, please God, me and my likes can make a few changes with regards those who currently rule over us; holding the Irish public to ransome simply because they can.”


Health Products Regulatory Authority & HSE Recall ‘ToothFaerie’ Toothpaste.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) are, today, advising consumers of a recall of the ‘ToothFaerie‘ brand of toothpaste products.

With some of the recalled products possibly remaining available to Irish consumers; both the HSE and HPRA confirm that these toothpastes are unsafe, and advise consumers to immediately halt the use of these products, which are also possibly available online and which do not meet the necessary requirements of the European Cosmetics Regulations.

The products listed include the ingredient sodium tetraborate (borax), latter prohibited from use in cosmetic products, since same may cause damage to the reproductive system, affecting fertility.

One batch of the product tested was found to contain lead, which can also damage fertility or the unborn child, and can cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure.

Yet, other batches of product tested were found to contain microbial contamination; [latter a bacterium causing disease or fermentation] at levels which could cause irritation or serious infection.

To date, no assurance has been received from the manufacturing company that a ‘Cosmetic Product Safety Report’ had been carried out on the stated now banned products. Such safety reports are a legal requirement for all cosmetics for sale on the Irish market, thus these products are considered non-compliant and unsafe.

Unfounded medical claims, were also claimed by the company in their advertising material relating to these products.

The HPRA wish to remind consumers to always check that any cosmetic product they purchase, whether in retail shops or via online, has a name and address within the EU, on the label.


Allergy Alert Notification

Undeclared soya in a batch of Boots Kids Daily Health Multivitamins Strawberry Flavour.

The Irish Food Safety Authority, in a Food Allergen Alert, warns of danger with regards the consumption of Boots Kids Daily Health Multivitamins, Strawberry Flavour; pack size: 30 gummies; Batch code: 82221103; with best before date: May 17th 2024.

The above stated batch of Boots Kids Daily Health Multivitamins, Strawberry Flavour, was mispacked with Boots Kids Health Multivitamin + Omega 3 Orange Flavour gummies. This product contains soya which is not declared in the list of ingredients.

Soy allergy is one of the most common food allergies in infants and children. This food allergy is often outgrown by the age of 3 years. Symptoms of a soy allergy may be mild or severe, and can include:

  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Swelling of lips, face, tongue, throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, runny nose or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

Some people may have a serious reaction to soy called anaphylaxis, which is potentially life-threatening, if it is not treated. This may make the batch unsafe for consumers, latter who are allergic to or intolerant of soya.


Zero New Acute Beds For Mid-West Hospitals In 2023.

  • UL Hospitals Group only hospital group in country not to receive new beds.
UHL member of UL Hospitals Group.

No new acute beds will be opened in the Mid-West Region in 2023, according to figures released to Independent Clare TD, Mr Michael McNamara.

In response to Deputy McNamara’s Parliamentary Question, the HSE’s Acute Operations department says none of the six hospitals in the UL Hospitals Group will receive any of the 209 acute beds scheduled to be opened this year, subject to staffing and completion of some capital works.

“One year on from the news that no new acute beds would be opened within the UL Hospitals Group in 2022, we learn that the Mid West is once again missing from the list of regions to benefit from such investment in 2023,” stated Deputy McNamara.

He continued, “This follows on from the revelation that just 7 full-time positions were created at UHL, the most overcrowded hospital in the State for the past 7 years, and only 61 fulltime positions were filled in the UL Hospitals Group in 2022, the smallest increase in any region of the State, it’s clear that the chronic underinvestment in acute services in the Mid-West will continue through 2023. The fact that the UL Hospitals Group is the only group in the country not to benefit from new acute beds, is an affront to the people of North Tipperary, Clare and Limerick.”

The 209 new acute beds targeted to open in 2023 will be located in Mallow General Hospital (20) and South Tipperary General Hospital (28) (South/South West Hospital Group); Portiuncula University Hospital (12) and Letterkenny University Hospital (3) (Saolta University Health Care Group); Monaghan/Cavan General Hospital (2) (RCSI Hospitals Group); Mater University Hospital (96) and National Rehabilitation Hospital (6) (Ireland East Hospital Group); St James Hospital (12), Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore (8) and Naas General Hospital (12) (Dublin Midlands Hospital Group); and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin (10) (Children’s Health Ireland).

Deputy McNamara admitted that while the provision of additional bed capacity on its own will not resolve the overcrowding problems at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the delivery of new acute, beds “should certainly be part of the solution.”

Meanwhile, Deputy McNamara said that he has requested Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to include Ennis Hospital on his itinerary during his visit to the region tomorrow (Friday) when he is scheduled to visit UHL and meet, separately, with representatives of the Mid-West Hospital Campaign.

“It is necessary that the Taoiseach visits our Model 2 Hospitals to get a better understanding of their underutilisation and their capacity to contribute to reducing overcrowding at UHL. The people of the Mid-west cannot afford another year of negligible investment in healthcare services in this region, which will result in a repeat of dangerous levels of overcrowding next winter.

“Increasing bed capacity and expanding services at our Model 2 hospitals, while not a panacea, must be part of the solution as failure to do so will lead to a continuation of crippling overcrowding at Dooradoyle and even longer waiting lists”, concluded Deputy McNamara.


HSE Figures Highlight Chronic Underinvestment In Mid West.

Only 7 WTE (Fulltime /Whole-time Equivalent) healthcare professional positions in Acute Services were created at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) during 2022, despite UHL being the most overcrowded hospital in the country last year.

Figures released by the HSE in response to a Parliamentary Question by Independent Clare TD Mr Michael McNamara show that 61 or 2.3% of the 2,645 WTE acute services positions, created last year in Irish hospitals, were located in hospitals within the UL Hospital Group.
This compared with the creation of 579 WTE positions in Saolta University Hospital Care (21.9% of the national figure), 547 in the South/South West Hospital Group (20.7%), 498 in the RCSI Hospitals Group (18.8%), 459 in the Ireland East Hospital Group (17.4%), 418 in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (15.8%) and 77 in Children’s Health Ireland (2.9%).

The figures also show that University Maternity Hospital Limerick was one of only five hospitals across the country, to experience a reduction in staff numbers in Acute Services, with 265 WTE health professionals employed at the facility in December 2022, compared to 274 in December 2021.
The other hospitals experiencing a reduction in overall staff numbers were Coombe Women & Infants University (-20), St. Michael’s Dublin (-10), CHI at Temple Street (-6) and CHI at Connolly (-1).

The report is broken down by hospital and staff categories, namely Medical & Dental, Nursing & Midwifery and Health & Social Care professionals, including physiologists. The HSE states that an additional 666 and 38 W.T.E positions were created in Community Services and Health & Wellbeing services respectively during 2022.

Deputy McNamara, who will be raising the matter with Taoiseach Mr Leo Varadkar, during Leader’s Questions tomorrow (Tuesday), said the figures are contrary to repeated claims by Health Minister Mr Stephen Donnelly about investments in resources within the UL Hospital Group.

“UHL has been the most overcrowded hospital in the country for the past seven years, with a record 18,028 patients waiting on trolleys and on wards in 2022,” stated Deputy McNamara.

Deputy McNamara continued, “This time last year, we discovered that none of the six hospitals in the UL Hospitals Group would receive any of the 411 acute and 36 ICU beds scheduled to open across Ireland in 2022. Now we discover that the increase in the healthcare workforce in Acute Services in the Mid-West falls far behind the increases seen in other regions across the country. The picture painted by these figures suggests a chronic underinvestment in hospitals across this region and therefore, there should be no surprise as to why waiting lists and trolley numbers here remain consistently higher than other parts of the country.”

Deputy McNamara added, “Minister Donnelly told me in the Dáil last week that 2023 will be the fourth year of record recruitment into the HSE, since the foundation of the HSE, which will ring hollow for the people of North Tipperary, Clare, and Limerick, who will look at these figures and see that the UL Hospital Group has benefited little. The Minister also told me in the Dáil last week that 1,000 extra staff now work in UHL compared with three years ago. I have submitted a Parliamentary Question to Minister Donnelly in respect of a breakdown of these positions and I await his response.”