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Weighty issues

But, as he would say himself, he is not in the job for popularity stakes. He is a strong advocate of upping the restrictive weight structure in horse racing and is not shy about saying so.  This is in addition to advocating a holistic professional development pathway for jockeys that incorporates nutritional, educational, fitness and psychological needs.

Over more than 10 years, Dr McGoldrick has been pivotally involved in research that has drawn a concerning picture of jockeys’ health, from chronic dehydration to high levels of osteopaenia.

With the human race getting bigger generally, the weight structure is cause for concern. Dr McGoldrick believes there must be an international debate on jockey weight structures. He would like to see them rise substantially across the board.

The minimum weight in Irish flat racing is just 8 stone 4 pounds (inclusive of saddle, protective gear, etc). This rose by four pounds in the 2006 season following research which produced worrying findings in respect of dehydration, bone density, body fat and nutrition. The equivalent minimum weight in the UK is 8 stone.

Research commissioned by Dr McGoldrick also suggests that 57 per cent of professional jockeys display symptoms of depression, rising to 65 per cent in the 18-24 age group.

He has asked colleagues in the UK and France to consider replicating the research to see if they elicit similar findings.

Initial data suggests the issue of weight-making may well play a significant part in driving such high incidence of depression.

Dr McGoldrick’s work is a reminder of the special position of doctors as arbiters of change. It also shows how doggedness, diligence and professionalism are required to truly make inroads in any area of practice.

As journalist Daragh Ó Conchúir so eloquently reflected in The Irish Field earlier this year, “McGoldrick’s humanity, allied with an innate desire to push back the boundaries and do better, to be a scientist as well as a general practitioner, to learn and educate, is the main factor in Ireland’s place at the vanguard of health and safety developments in racing.”

May his good work continue.


From one innovator to another.

Dr Kate Granger, an English geriatrician who launched the ‘Hello, my name is…’ campaign to encourage healthcare staff to introduce themselves to patients, sadly passed away on 23 July at the age of 34. 

Dr Granger’s campaign arose after she was diagnosed with a desmoplastic small round cell tumour in 2011. During her treatment, she noticed that many healthcare staff failed to introduce themselves by name.

A particularly chilling incident involved a junior doctor telling Dr Granger that the cancer had spread without looking her in the eye and proceeding to scurry from the room.

The fact that Dr Granger could face this psychological thunderstorm and drive a campaign that has engaged, energised and been adopted by healthcare staff in many countries — including Ireland — is remarkable. It is proof positive that one person really can make a difference. She was clearly one special person.

The #hellomynameis campaign continues on social media, hospital wards and clinics around the world.

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