Funding awarded for four patient centred projects

By Mary Dennehy

FUNDING has been awarded to Tallaght University Hospital for four patient-centred, community-based projects, one of which will help tackle the health facility’s urology lists, which are the longest in the country.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD this week announced the successful applicants in the €20m Sláintecare Integration Fund.

Tallaght Hospital 04 compressor

Projects encourage innovations in shift of care to the community

Some 477 projects nationwide applied for the Integration Fund, with 122 successful - four of which are based at Tallaght University Hospital (TUH).

The successful projects demonstrate innovative ways in which people can engage in their own health and represent best practice in the management of chronic diseases and caring for older people.

The projects also encourage innovations in shift of care to the community or promote hospital avoidance.

At TUH, successful projects include an Advanced Nurse Practitioner for the development of male lower urinary tract symptoms and benign urology.

According to the hospital, urology waiting lists have increased by 80 per cent in recent years, with TUH, currently having the longest urology waiting list nationally.

With an increasing aged population in the TUH catchment area urology referrals are increasing and likely to continue to increase in the future, a hospital spokesperson said.

This project will result in an increasing volume of care in the primary care setting and shared care with GPs, reducing the number of outpatients clinics per year.

The Heart Failure Service Integrated Care Project at TUH was also awarded funding.

This service was established in TUH in 2003 and has successfully reduced re-admission rates, reduced length of stay and improved both the quality of life and life expectancy for patients with heart failure.

Following funding, the project will establish integrated partnerships to join together the full range of heart failure services in the CH07 area.

According to the hospital, this has the potential to make a positive contribution to the delivery of care closer to home rather than in hospital.

Funding has also been awarded for the expansion of the advanced nurse-led chest pain service in TUH into the Integrated Community Chest Pain Clinic (ICCPC) for low risk patients.

There are no similar clinics in Ireland.

Around 1,400 patients are annually referred to A&E at TUH by their GP with chest pain.

Another 900 patients self-refer from local GP practices.

The “vast majority are very low risk and are therefore subjected to lengthy waiting times” (10 to 12 hours) in the A&E.

The project will provide an alternative avenue for low risk chest pain assessment through a nurse-led chest pain clinic in the community setting that can be accessed by all GPs in the TUH catchment area.

Lastly, funding was provided for integrated care for patients presenting with leg ulcers.

In 2018, there was almost 8,000 outpatient department vascular attendance – around 25 per cent of which are related to leg ulcers.

According to the hospital, the vascular team has estimated that by developing this integrated care initiative to better manage leg ulcer patients in the community, the outpatient department attendance rate could be reduced by 50 per cent.

In a statement to The Echo, a TUH spokesperson said: “The hospital is focused on developing services and patient pathways that cater for the aging and growing population around our hospital.

“Older people are higher consumers of health services and while specialists need to provide this care it does not always have to be provided in the hospital.”

The team at TUH hopes, once funding is provided, to develop these four new patient pathways between now and early next year.

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