Lymphoedema Specialist Services take the initiative on preventative care
Lymphoedema Specialist Services (LSS) will be changing course and adopting an innovative approach to care, set to commence in January 2020, says Director Jane Board.
Board, who has worked in the field for 23 years and run the organisation for 8, has overseen the expansion of LSS across southeast England. This development has dramatically increased the options for those suffering with the condition, thought to be up to 200,000 in the UK.
Lymphoedema is a chronic form of swelling in body tissues due to damage or underdevelopment to the lymphatic system. It is currently incurable, but prompt treatment can make a significant difference to the quality of a patient’s life.
LSS had previously operated as a specialist service supporting the NHS, but found that delays in the referral process often meant that patients were suffering far more than was necessary by the time of their first appointment.
The new structure would be one based around prevention, which aligns with current NHS targets, and would focus on providing ‘surveillance and education’ for those who may be at risk of developing symptoms, such as those receiving cancer treatment involving lymph node removal and radiotherapy.
Operating under this new approach meant that LSS chose not to renew its contract with the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Despite receiving their support, in September 2019, LSS learned from the local CCGs that there would not be funding from them for the project.
However, LSS plans to progress with their model independently, launching in Eastbourne, Hastings and Brighton, with a business grant and a donation from a patient helping to make this possible. Board writes that 2020 will see the organisation ‘travel throughout the UK to work with health organisations, support groups and charitable trusts’ - collecting quantitative data along the way to be published in a medical journal.