Achievements of 123 projects funded through Sláintecare Integration Fund

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A total of 19,000 inpatient bed days were avoided, 8,000 patients were seen from waiting lists  and 3,000 ED attendances were avoided, as a result of the 123 projects funded through the Sláintecare Integration Fund, according to the Department of Health.

The Department said that as part of the projects, almost 64,000 patients had been seen, 15,000 people received more appropriate referrals to relevant health specialists in a community setting and there was a reduction in the average length of stay in hospital for people with chronic disease.  

“There has been a decrease in waiting times for patients who were seen by projects, in particular projects delivering Ophthalmology services, Urology services and the management of Chronic disease services and a total of 13,000 patients reported an improved health status through lifestyle, self-management and physical activity.”  

The 123 projects tested new ways of working and delivered innovative models of care, bringing care closer to home by putting the patient at the centre of service design and delivery. 

The Department said two projects were supported to test a new Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) care pathway.  Both projects were led and delivered by an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in community and outpatient facilities.  The projects diverted treatment away from traditional consultant led clinics, creating a more streamlined efficient service and achieved a reduction in waiting lists. They also reported a 100% patient satisfaction based on initial feedback.  

The Headache clinic project was successfully tested in three sites and was a collaboration between the HSE, GPs, the Migraine Association of Ireland and local pharmacies. “This project has established new protocols for management of headache, that provide for trained nurse prescribers who work alongside neurologists with expertise in headache. The project has resulted in reduced referrals to OPD and a significant increase in capacity for new patients to be seen at OPD by Medical Clinicians. This project achieved a 23% (182 patients) reduction in waiting lists.”  

Four projects funded by the Sláintecare Integration Fund provided a range of community-based Ophthalmology services. The Adult Integrated Eye Care Team in CHO 7 is a collaboration with Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and College of Ophthalmology. This integrated pathway of care was designed by the National Clinical Programme for Ophthalmology to address an over reliance on hospital delivered care by providing community pre- and postoperative assessment targeting adult patients with chronic disease and adult patients requiring pre & post-operative cataract care.

The Department said outcomes to date included: 

  • 1,789 patients had been offered treatment in primary care settings. 
  • Reduction of 1.5years in waiting time in four community health network areas. 
  • Hospital OPD waiting list was reduced by 1,789 (89%) in year one.  

Welcoming the publication of the report, Health Minister,  Stephen Donnelly said: “The projects highlighted in this report show how joined-up thinking and working in partnership can help us reach Sláintecare’s goals of shifting the majority of care to the community, reducing waiting lists and improving experiences for patients and staff across the health and social care system in Ireland. 

 “I firmly believe that our frontline healthcare workers are one of the greatest resources we have as a nation. We know we have the brightest and most highly skilled and motivated workforce; they know where improvements can be implemented and, through the Sláintecare Integration Fund projects, they demonstrated their leadership and innovation to develop and implement alternative ways of meeting the needs of patients”.   

Over 320 additional staff were recruited to the projects, providing additional capacity in the health system, 64% of these new roles were in nursing and HSCP and included specialists in nursing, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietician, advanced nurse practitioners, consultants, cardiology, ophthalmology, link workers for social prescribing, community development workers, and administrative support staff.  

“The testing of four of the Sláintecare Integration Fund projects has fed directly into the new patient care pathway design process which is currently taking forward the development and finalisation of 73 individual care pathways across 16 specialities in the HSE. These projects, through a shift of patient care from hospital to community services led to reductions in waiting lists and waiting times for specific categories of patients on Urology, Neurology and Ophthalmology waiting lists.”