Lymphoedema services need to be progressed

Treatment services 'badly needed'
  • Deborah Condon

People affected by the painful swelling condition, lymphoedema, are calling on the Minster for Health to progress the roll out of planned new treatment services.

Lymphoedema is a long-term swelling condition caused by a build-up of fluid in the body's tissues. This occurs when the lymphatic system, a key part of the immune system which normally drains fluid away, does not work properly.

Around 15,000 people in Ireland are currently living with the condition.

"Lymphoedema involves painful swelling in the body's tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs. Once developed it is a lifelong condition.

"It can either occur genetically or following cancer treatment, particularly breast cancer. The best model of care is for patients to have localised access to drainage, bandaging and compression garments," explained Bernie Traynor, chairperson of Lymphoedema Ireland (LI), which represents those affected.

The voluntary group is meeting Minster Simon Harris next month to discuss the delivery of a new model of care, which the HSE has developed.

This is the first model of care developed for this condition in Ireland and it was only finalised last month. According to Ms Traynor, details are now needed on how and when it will be delivered.

"We are calling on the Minister to sanction the HSE to urgently begin implementation of badly needed treatment services. Delivering a dedicated model of care will greatly improve outcomes for patients. We also estimate that 15,000 hospital bed nights and €13 million in savings can be achieved," Ms Traynor noted.

She pointed out that around 1,000 children are affected by this condition, and the development of treatment services should also include their needs.

Meanwhile, LI also called on people to attend its open day in Dublin on Saturday, March 30.

The event will include the latest information on the condition and topics due to be covered include surgery, skin care and drainage.

Guest speakers will include lymphoedema therapist, Deirdre Cullivan, and consultant vascular physician, Dr Mary-Paula Colgan.

The open day will take place in the Aisling Hotel in Dublin on March 30 and anyone interested can register here.


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