Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Assessment and Management of Lymphoedema were today welcomed by Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
More than 45,000 people in Ireland and Northern Ireland live with lymphoedema, an incurable and chronic illness that causes swelling in the body's tissue. In Northern Ireland, more than 1 in 6 people live with a form of this condition.
Speaking at an event to mark the publication, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Professor Sir Michael McBride said: "This guidance has been developed to support clinicians and ultimately improve the quality of life of people living with lymphoedema across Ireland. I welcome the publication of the Guidelines and pay tribute to all who have contributed to their development; and to their dedication to improving the experience and safety of people in our care."
Attending on behalf of Department of Health (Ireland), Fiona Steed, Chief Health and Social Care Professional (HSCP) Officer said; "I am delighted to represent the Department of Health (Ireland) at this event to mark the publication of the All-Ireland Lymphoedema Guidelines, which are the result of many years of collaborative work. I would like to acknowledge the commitment and work of all those involved in these guidelines. The application of these guidelines will ensure an enhanced level of appropriate care for patients with Lymphoedema across the island of Ireland."
Today's event was also attended by co-development partners from the Health Service Executive (Republic of Ireland), the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland (Health and Social Care), the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland and patient representatives.
Health Service Executive (HSE) Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry said: "Providing guidance to healthcare workers on prevention, early detection, effective treatments and supported self-care will help to ensure that every patient receives optimal care."
Ms Jane Rankin MBE, Clinical Lead for the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland and co-lead for the guideline development said; "Ireland is now in a much stronger position to identify and manage patients with lymphoedema. In particular to be able to address the future development of children's lymphoedema services and lymphoedema surgery. In addition, working in conjunction with the recent regional Cancer Strategy, and introduction of prehabilitation lymphoedema education to reduce the risk of those most likely to develop lymphoedema, and to build a screening and surveillance programme which will improve the experience of many."
Ms Michelle Tennyson, Chair, Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland (LNNI) and Deputy Director (Lead AHP, PPI & PCE) Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland said, "The new evidence base provides a thorough platform to ensure care pathways continue to be modernised and provide effective and efficient care and are welcomed to support the increasing number of people living with lymphoedema on the Island of Ireland. The Public Health Agency would like to thank all members of the Guideline Development Group. In particular, I would like to extend special thanks to the service user representatives who have been integral to this process."
The Guidelines for use by clinicians, healthcare managers and commissioners are available on the Lymphoedema Network Northern Ireland website.