Sunday 4 December 2016

Doctor whose salt clinic was praised by Twink facing misconduct action

Kevin Keane

Published 31/01/2012 | 05:00

Salt Cave Climatherapy clinic owner Dr Tamas Bakonyi and his partner Orsi Sarkozy
Salt Cave Climatherapy clinic owner Dr Tamas Bakonyi and his partner Orsi Sarkozy
Adele King (Twink) joins the couple to celebrate the clinic's second birthday

A DOCTOR whose 'salt cave' clinic was endorsed by the entertainer Twink has been accused of misleading the public.

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Dr Tamas Bakonyi appeared before a Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry yesterday accused of professional misconduct and/or poor professional performance on a number of grounds in relation to the Salt Cave Climatherapy clinic in the Glenroyal Shopping Centre, in Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Adele King, also known by her stage name Twink, appeared in a full-page newspaper article in 2011 in which she said she was "amazed" and "felt fabulous" following sessions in the salt cave, which is used to treat asthma and other breathing difficulties.

Ms King was pictured alongside Dr Bakonyi in the article, cutting a cake to celebrate the clinic's second birthday.

Yesterday a clinical professor of respiratory medicine at Trinity College Dublin said he was particularly concerned about the article.

Professor Stephen Lane said: "Here you have a situation where you have a medical practitioner and a national celebrity endorsing a treatment that has no factual basis. It is of concern because the particular celebrity has a fan-base and a national following."

Lawyers representing the Medical Council contend that this article, published in the 'Liffey Champion', and one published in 'The Irish Times' in 2009, contained statements about the clinic's benefits which could be misleading to the public.

Allegations were also made about statements contained in newspaper ads for the clinic and in a visit to the clinic broadcast by RTE Radio One's 'Mooney Show'.

Prof Lane told the inquiry that there was "absolutely no evidence" for a number of claims made on the clinic's website and that some of the words and sentences used made no medical sense.

He said there had not been enough studies carried out to prove the effectiveness of salt cave therapy but added that there was also no evidence to suggest the treatment was unsafe.

"In medical terms, to bring a product to the market there must be clinical, randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trials. None of this had been done with salt cave therapy (SCT) yet," he said.

Prof Lane added that, in his opinion, the advertisements and articles amounted to poor professional practice by Dr Bakonyi but not professional misconduct.

Earlier, Saidhbhe Duggan, a primary school teacher, gave evidence of having visited the clinic in May 2010 for a chest infection. She said that after one session she made an appointment to see Dr Bakonyi at this GP clinic in Leixlip where he told her that she had a cough variance of asthma. He told her SCT was more effective than inhalers in the treatment of asthma.

Following a series of one-hour sessions in the salt cave, Ms Duggan returned to Dr Bakonyi in August, but "he didn't remember me because I had to explain the whole thing to him again and he just told me to go back to using my inhalers".

The hearing is set to continue today.

Irish Independent

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