Belfast Telegraph

Doctor misled patients with 'salt cave' therapy -- inquiry

By Kevin Keane

A doctor who operated a 'salt cave', which he claimed could help patients with asthma and cystic fibrosis, has been found guilty of poor professional performance.

A Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry found Dr Tamas Bakonyi of Co Kildare guilty on two counts in relation to the Salt Cave Climatherapy clinic in the Glenroyal Shopping Centre, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

The ruling relates to claims on the clinic's website that the treatment could have a beneficial effect on people with respiratory illnesses.

The inquiry decided that the website, and articles that Dr Bakonyi caused to be published in the 'Irish Times' in December 2009; and the 'Liffey Champion' in July 2009 contained false or misleading claims, raised unrealistic public expectations and/or did not include information about the risk of neglecting, reducing or abandoning proven treatments.

The inquiry also found Dr Bakonyi guilty of poor professional performance in relation to a charge for which he offered the salt cave treatment to patients without adequate evidential basis.

Much of the argument put to the inquiry in closing remarks yesterday concerned expert testimony given by Stephen Lane, a clinical professor of Respiratory Medicine at Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Lane had told the inquiry there was "absolutely no evidence" for a number of claims made on the clinic's website and that there had not been enough studies carried out to prove the effectiveness of salt cave therapy.

Simon Mills, a barrister representing Dr Bakonyi, said the opinion of Prof Lane was fundamentally tainted by the fact that he "is not now nor ever has been a GP".

A sanction against Dr Bakonyi will be decided by the full Medical Council at a later date.

Belfast Telegraph


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