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Helping smokers quit cost HSE €2.5m over five years

Dara Bradley



Galway smokers with medical cards cost the Health Service Executive (HSE) more than €2.5 million over five years for chewing gum and nicotine patches to help them to kick the habit.

New figures reveal the HSE coughed-up €500,000 on average each year since 2011 for prescriptions for therapies and medications for the treatment of nicotine addiction. The prescriptions were dispensed by GPs in the county to patients covered by free healthcare schemes.

These include nicotine patches, chewing gum, nasal sprays, and lozenges; as well as the prescription medication Champix, which has the effect of reducing cravings.

These products were added to the list of reimbursable items by the HSE to encourage smokers to quit in 2001. They are available to medical-card holders, and patients covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) and Long-Term Illness (LTI) scheme.

The most commonly prescribed products include Nicorette gum, Nicorette inhaler, Nicorette transdermal patches, and Nicorette nasal spray.

According to research, nicotine is responsible for the dependence of regular smokers on cigarettes.

Prescriptions for Champix were also dispensed by GPs to help combat smokers’ urges. This is used to treat addiction by weakly stimulating nicotine receptors. It is said to reduce cravings for cigarettes and decrease the pleasurable effects that users get from smoking.

The cost of providing these products to medical card holders in Galway was €592,000 in 2011; €600,000 in 2012; €526,000 in 2013; €444,000 in 2014; and €409,000 in 2015.

Meanwhile, prescription drugs used for treatment of alcoholism among Galway’s medical card holders has cost the HSE almost €125,000 over five years.

A total of 5,370 prescriptions were issued by GPs for drugs for the treatment of alcohol and drug dependency under the medical card scheme in the city and county between 2011 and 2015.

Some 5,161 of the prescriptions related to drugs typically used for the treatment of alcohol.

The drugs prescribed to help alcohol-dependent patients included Antabuse, which treats chronic alcoholism by producing an acute sensitivity to alcohol. This results in an immediate ‘hangover’ effect, causing nausea, headaches, thirst, and weakness.

Meanwhile, a further 209 prescriptions were issued for Nalorex, which is a long term treatment for addiction to opioids.

In Galway, the cost of the drugs amounted to €25,000 on average each year for treating alcoholism among medical card holders.

Nationally, the total cost to the taxpayer of treatment of alcoholism among medical card holders was in excess of €1.2 million over five years.

The data was supplied by the HSE following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.


€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms




Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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