Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Professor Tony O’Brien

Professor O’Brien has been an outstanding driver of developments in palliative care in Ireland

Professor Tony O’Brien, recently retired Clinical Professor of Palliative Medicine, at University College Cork, and Consultant Physician in Palliative Medicine at Cork University Hospital and Marymount University Hospital and Hospice, is one of the great pioneers of Palliative Medicine in Ireland. Following his training with the legendary Dame Cicely Saunders, at St Christopher’s Hospice in London, his appointment in Cork in 1991, was as the first specialist in palliative medicine in Munster and just the second in Ireland.

Since his appointment, Tony has been an outstanding driver of developments in palliative care in Ireland (90 per cent of which is delivered in the community), and, among his many appointments, he has served as Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care, the National Council for Specialist Palliative Care, the Irish Association for Palliative Care, the Irish Palliative Medicine Consultants’ Association and the Council of Europe Expert Committee on Palliative Care.

Listeners to this interview – be they patients and their loved ones or professionals – cannot but be moved by the words of a profoundly humane and inspiring carer, teacher and advocate, who says of modern (often ambulatory) ‘hospice care’: “Nobody wants to receive a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react. In the words of Victor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Hospice simply tries to create and hold that space, with love.”

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