Call for dedicated treatment services for 15,000 Lymphoedema patients

Localised services for Lymphoedema can save 15,000 bed nights and €13m

New ‘Model of Care’ for Lymphoedema needs urgent roll out

Improved outcomes for patients, 15,000 hospital bed nights and €13m in savings – can be achieved through developing dedicated localised services for Lymphoedema.

That’s according to Lymphoedema Ireland, which today said that a first-ever ‘Model of Care’ for Lymphoedema treatment was agreed by the HSE last month – and now needs to rolled out urgently.

Chairperson Bernie Traynor said the condition, which causes swelling of the body with fluid, affects 15,000 people and requires lifelong treatment. The proven approach is to make routine treatment readily available locally, which avoids problems escalating and unnecessary hospital admissions.

“Treatments such as Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) should be standardised and accessible locally in all primary care centres. These can be delivered by already trained HSE staff including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses.

“We estimate that once localised treatment services are resourced nationally, it will deliver net annual savings to the health service of €13m and free up 15,000 hospital bed nights.

“This would also be much better for patients who due to routine access to drainage, bandaging and compression garments – would mostly avoid ending up in hospital.”

Lymphoedema involves painful swelling in the body's tissues. Primary Lymphoedema is a genetic condition and secondary Lymphoedema mainly occurs following cancer treatment, particularly breast cancer. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs.

In 2014 the HSE prepared an initial report on how the condition is treated in Ireland, however it was never published. In 2016 the HSE appointed a National Coordinator and a Working Group was established.

Lymphoedema Ireland said that a first-ever Model of Care for Lymphoedema in Ireland was finalised by the HSE last month, but there was no detail yet on how or when this would be implemented.

Approximately 1,000 of patients are children and Ms Traynor said the development of treatment services should also address the needs of children.

A third issue raised was a call for a long term illness card for those affected. “Lymphoedema is a lifelong condition and a long-term card should be an integral part of public treatment,” Ms Traynor said.

Ms. Traynor said that the message from patients was that “a coordinated standardised national programme needs to be implemented urgently with earlier diagnosis, localised access to care and a risk reduction plan for cancer treatments. This will require a small level of initial resourcing, but will bring much better outcomes for patients and significant long-term savings for the health service.”

Patient Support Day

Lymphoedema Ireland is organising a National Patient Support day in Dublin on Saturday March 30th. More information on registering at

Lymphoedema Ireland is a voluntary patient group representing patients and their carers. It provides information, a telephone helpline, an online discussion forum and an Annual Support Day.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.
Twitter: @LymphIreland
World Lymphoedema Day 2019:



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