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Community care improving health outcomes and experiences for patients

The new Regional Executive Officer (REO) for HSE West and North West, Tony Canavan, has acknowledged the progress the Enhanced Community Care (ECC) Programme is making, as new 2023 figures indicate significant improvements in long waiting times and outpatient appointments as well as a high number of patients seen in the community rather than in hospital.

Six newly appointed Consultants as part of the Integrated Care Programme for Chronic Disease, in HSE West and North West: 6 of 8 integrated care consultants, part of the Enhanced Community Care Programme, are now in place. The initial key focus of the integrated care consultants is to see patients waiting over one year and provide timely specialist opinion to GPs and patients.

Significant reduction in the numbers waiting for outpatient appointments in hospitals with an Integrated Care Consultant in place for longer than 3 months:

  • 51 percent reduction in waiting lists for Cardiology outpatient appointments at Portiuncula University Hospital
  • 34 percent reduction in waiting lists for Cardiology outpatient appointments at Letterkenny University Hospital  

99 percent reduction in numbers waiting more than 12 months for Cardiology:

  • Waiting lists for those waiting over 12 months for cardiology outpatient appointments have reduced by 99 percent in both Letterkenny and Portiuncula University Hospitals.
  • An estimated 550 bed days have been saved in a six months period at Galway University Hospitals due to reductions in readmission rate for Cardiology patients seen by Galway City Integrated Care Hub.

Older People are being supported to live well in their communities: In 2023, nearly 27,000 patient contacts completed by the Community Specialist Teams (CSTs) for older people in HSE West and North West. The CSTs are helping older people avoid hospital admissions;

  • 66 percent were discharged home with community based interventions, avoiding acute hospital admissions and only 3 percent of patients were admitted to long-term care.
  • An estimated 204 bed days were saved in a 6 month period in Sligo University Hospital due to direct referrals from the Frailty at front door team to the ICPOP Team and subsequent interventions undertaken.

Those with Chronic Disease are being supported to live well in their communities:

The Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Programme in General Practice continues to support people with chronic diseases to manage their conditions and live well at home, with 95 percent of GPs having signed up to the Programme nationally. The CDM Programme is an entirely new healthcare service in Ireland bringing care for chronic disease such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes further into the community. Of those referred on by their GP for more specialist input, there were over 45,000 patient contacts by ICPCD CSTs in HSE West and North West in 2023.

Record number of radiology scans, with over 48,000 in 2023 through the GP access to Community Diagnostics Scheme, reducing referrals to Emergency Departments, Acute Medical Units and outpatient departments. This surpassed 30,700 radiology scans completed in 2022.

Tony Canavan, Regional Executive Officer for HSE West and North West, acknowledged the continued rollout of the Enhanced Community Care Programme across the health service saying:

“These new figures show the positive impact the Enhanced Community Care programme is making. Our new consultants are reducing waiting times, while the new Community Specialist Teams are providing early diagnosis, proactive management and improving outcomes for those with chronic diseases such as COPD, asthma, heart failure and diabetes in the community. Over 90 percent of patients attending their GP for structured chronic disease management are managed solely by their GP in their communities, instead of attending hospital for the ongoing management of their condition, saving the patient valuable time and money whilst also reducing pressures on hospitals. Also, the focus on chronic disease prevention and secondary prevention is having an impact on improving the health and wellbeing of our population, with social prescribing available throughout the North West and a full smoking cessation service with above national average Quit rates.





The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
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