Details of the Charles Institute, a new facility dedicated to dermatology in Ireland were announced on 13 June 2008 by the Board Members of the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital Charity and University College Dublin.
The Charles Institute, named in honour of Andrew Charles, the founder of the original skin hospital in Hume Street, is devoted to research on skin conditions and the training of health professionals in dermatology.
A number of point were highlighted to those attending the launch:
• The Charles Institute, named in honour of Andrew Charles, the founder of the original skin hospital in Hume Street, will recruit upwards of 50 scientists, graduate students and medical practitioners and will be devoted to research in skin conditions and the training of health professionals in dermatology.
• Skin conditions are the fourth most common reason for GP visits in Ireland. Each year, 15% of all GP visits are because of a skin complaint. The prevalence of skin diseases such as skin cancer, leg ulcers, and atopic eczema has increased steadily over the past 20 years. Indeed, skin cancer is the commonest form of cancer in Ireland. And today, between 25% and 33% of the Irish population suffer from a dermatological condition at any one time.
• The incidence of malignant melanoma, a potentially fatal skin cancer is rising in Ireland – with approximately 600 people being diagnosed with melanoma of skin every year. A further 6,200 people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer each year.
• Studies also show that up to 20% of Irish children have suffered from atopic eczema by the age of 4. With this inflammatory disease, the skin barrier is disrupted and the skin becomes dry and prone to infection. This leads to great distress in affected children sufferers and their parents as the condition is exacerbated by soap and detergents making washing and hygiene a real problem in the home.
• Psoriasis is another common skin disease that causes huge distress and for which treatment remains elusive. The condition appears as unsightly patches (plaques) that can itch, form painful splits in the skin and can cause painful joints.
• “Chronic skin disease has a significant impact on quality of life for sufferers and their families,” says Dr Paul Collins, Consultant Dermatologist at St Vincent’s University Hospital. “And although these conditions are not fatal, many patients are susceptible to disturbed body image, lack of confidence and depression.”
• “The conditions can prove physically disabling, disfiguring, painful and intensely irritating, and often result in loss of sleep, disruption to family life, teasing and bullying in school, difficulty in achieving employment and problems in forming social relationships,” explains Dr Collins.
Mr. Peter O’Flanagan, Chairman of the City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital Charity delivered the following address:
Minister, distinguished guests,
Today marks a very special occasion for The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital. It defines the future for a noble endeavour that began in 1911 with the establishment of a voluntary Hospital in Hume Street to provide “for the treatment of diseases of the skin, cancer, rodent ulcer, lupus, kidney and other urinary diseases “.
Founded by Andrew Charles FRCSI and a Board of Governors, the Hospital received a Royal Charter from George V in 1916.
Since its foundation, through the efforts of its Boards of Governors, outstanding staff and consultants, The Hospital built a reputation and ethos for the delivery of outstanding care and attention for its patients.
However, after 94 years of service, it became obvious that, as a small hospital, survival into the 21st century was not going to be possible and that the service would have to be transferred. The Board made the decision very early on to co-operate in every way possible for the efficient transfer of the service when required to do so by the HSE.
This led to the very smooth transfer of the patient dermatology service to St. Vincent’s Hospital in October 2006.
At the AGM of 2005 we told the Life Governors of the pending transfer of the service and the closure of the Hospital. The Life Governors were aware that the Board had being considering different options for the future and would be looking for guidance.
Professor Eoin O Brien, a long time Life Governor, and a former Consultant to the Hospital, spoke from the floor. He outlined the history of the Hospital from its earliest days and made a very strong case that Dermatology Research was a much needed and logical alternative to running a Hospital. Dermatology Research was receiving very little funding, a huge number of people suffered acutely from it and skin cancer was by far the biggest cancer disease. As a further example of its poor standing there was not a single Professor of Dermatology on the whole island.
Professor O Brien went on to outline the impact such a development would have in the immediate term in the whole area of training and by the creation of an academic research environment for all involved in the management of skin diseases in Ireland. Further contributions were made from the floor and the outcome was a very strong direction to the Board that, whilst other options could continue to be looked at, Dermatology Research should receive our major focus.
During this time we also had discussions with Louise McMahon, Program Manager at the HSE, who highlighted the need for Dermatology Research and suggested it would be a very worthwhile and appropriate role for the future.
We met with the Irish Association of Dermatologists who made it obvious that funding research and the appointment of a Professor would have a major impact in the improvement of patient care.
In October 2006 we set up a sub-committee to seek proposals from academic institutions for Dermatology Research. After several meetings the Board decided on the outstanding proposal from UCD. It was ambitious in seeking to make the Institute a world centre of excellence and intent on attracting the very best people. At the heart of its proposal was the absolute need to have a stand-alone state of the art Research Institute dedicated to Dermatology.
And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, brings us to the name:
The Charles Institute
In our discussions with UCD we suggested the most appropriate title for the Institute was to name it after the driving force behind the establishment of The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital, Andrew Charles FRCSI. This was readily agreed.
The Charles Institute will be a 2,000 square metre, purpose built research centre on a site close to the Conway Institute. It will cost 18 million euros to build and equip. The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital is providing 12 million euros with UCD providing the site and 6 million euros. This remarkable collaborative partnership motivated the Board to accept the UCD proposal and we are delighted to announce it.
A t the start of my address I welcomed the Minister and you Ladies and Gentlemen as distinguished guests. I purposely did not mention two most special guests.
Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to welcome most especially two direct descendants of Andrew Charles, his granddaughter Mrs Norma Futers (whose father Havelock Charles carried on the good work of Andrew Charles by serving on the staff as a dedicated dermatologist for many decades) and his grandniece Dame Beulah Bewley. It adds hugely to the significance of to-day that you have both made the effort to be with us and we welcome you most sincerely.
For us, as The City of Dublin Skin Cancer Hospital, today marks a new and exciting beginning. It is important, however, to acknowledge where we have come from. Since the reality of facing closure as a Hospital this Board and the Life Governors have had the responsibility of deciding the future of the Charity. Under the outstanding chairmanship of Matt O’Brien four sub-committees were set up to deal with transfer of service, the disposal of Hume Street, modernization of the Charter and the future role for the Hospital and proposals for dermatology research.
The sub-committees reported back to the Board and I want to acknowledge the huge commitment and responsibility of every member of the Board who had to analyse and parse every proposal to arrive at the decision that best represented the inherited ethos of the Hospital and the correct vision for the future.
I hope that our commitment would have been reciprocated by every Board of Governors since 1911 and that today’s announcement would meet with their approval and that of the original founding fathers
I would like to thank the President of UCD, Hugh Brady, for his courtesy and input during our discussions and a particular thank you to Des Fitzgerald for his patience and expertise in answering all our questions. I would like to thank him also for the contributions made by the various members of his team and the personnel of the University who were willing to meet with the Board and show us the facilities available on the UCD campus.
I would like to acknowledge the very professional work done by our solicitors, Matheson, Ormsby and Prentice, in framing the necessary legal agreement with UCD and progressing our new Charter to a point where it has been approved in principle and should be executed this month.
In conclusion, for us, the Board of The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital, the establishment of The Charles Institute will result in a huge step forward in research, training and patient care. It will enhance and continue for many years into the future the noble endeavour that began in 1911.
We are delighted to be associated with UCD in the establishment of The Charles Institute – which aims to become a leading international centre of excellence in dermatology research and training.