Hospital attendances and admissions are down as a result of the HSE’s Enhanced Community Care (ECC) programme, with 91 per cent of patients with chronic disease now routinely fully managed close to home.
The second national HSE Enhanced Community Care Conference also highlighted how patients are moving through the integrated pathways of the ECC programme. As part of Sláintecare, ECC emphasises general practice, primary care, and community-based services to provide care closer to home, reducing acute hospital attendance and admission.
At the conference in Dublin Castle delegates heard that:
- Nine-in-ten patients with chronic disease (91 per cent) are, routinely, fully managed in primary care via the Chronic Disease Management in General Practice programme.
- GPs reviewed 309,778 patients in the first seven months of this year as part of the Chronic Disease Management Programme.
- Community diagnostics teams provided 196,988 radiology scans between January and July. It is expected that total scans conducted this year will surpass the 253,172 conducted in 2022.
- In the first seven months of 2023, there were 48,230 patient contacts by the teams supporting older people. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of their patients were discharged home, avoiding a potential hospital admission.
Recruitment of clinical frontline staff to the ECC programme is ongoing, with the HSE reporting that 78 per cent of the planned full-time workforce now secured.
A number of roles have also been appointed or at an advanced stage of recruitment, including 96 Community Healthcare Network Managers and Assistant Directors of Public Health Nursing (ADPHNs); 73 of the 96 GP Leads; 30 of the 30 Operational Leads for the Integrated Care Programme for Older Persons (ICPOP) and 27 of the 30 Operational Leads for Integrated Care Programme for the Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease (ICPCD), and 61.5 of 80.5 Consultants for ICPOP and ICPCD.
“In Ireland and the UK, we stand at a healthcare crossroads, grappling with evolving landscapes,” Prof David Colin Thomé OBE, former national clinical director of primary care at the Department of Health in England and conference keynote speaker, said.
“With Ireland’s ageing population and increasing chronic conditions, integrated care delivered closer to home becomes pivotal. Sláintecare’s ambition for a universal health service aligned with community care is impressive.
“The Enhanced Community Care Programme’s goal is bold and well-defined. By shifting focus to general practice, primary care and community-based services, the approach paves the way for comprehensive care pathways, care closer to people’s homes and a reduction in unnecessary hospital admissions. Moreover, as the programme matures, Ireland’s distinctive structure empowers community and primary care to drive broader health transformation, potentially reshaping services, and alleviating burdens across the system.”