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29 Sept 2022

Reduction in waiting times for Limerick patients attending new Pain Management Centre

Reduction in waiting times for Limerick patients attending new Pain Management Centre

The Pain Management Centre is led by Professor Dominic Harmon

WAITING times at the recently-opened Pain Management Centre at Croom Orthopaedic Hospital have been reduced by almost a third over the past 18 months, it has been revealed.

Investments in infrastructure and additional staff has resulted in a reduction in wait times – from referral to review - from 49 months to 60 weeks (14 months), while intervention lists have also decreased dramatically since 2021.

Over the past 18 months, the service, which is led by Professor Dominic Harmon, staffing levels have been increased significantly and further appointments are on stream.

The growing team is located in the orthopaedic hospital’s old theatres and the former St Mary’s Ward, which were completely refurbished and re-equipped to accommodate the service.

The new base of operations, which opened last December, has facilitated the amalgamation of services underway over the past 18 months, which uses the ‘hub and spoke’ model of healthcare, with a centre of excellence based in the acute setting, and links to the community and GPs in order to provide improved care.

There has been an immediate increase in the number of interventions, which, over the past 18 months, has grown from 18 per week to up to 50 patients every week.

Anna Marie Kiernan, candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Pain Management, who has worked alongside Prof Harmon throughout this process, says the recent improvements should not only be regarded in terms of numbers of patients seen, but in quality of service delivery.
 
“What has been achieved stems from our vision of the healthcare model, and a fresh focus on the processes that we had in place. At the time, our waiting lists from referral to review and then for intervention, was an extremely long time for someone who is pain to wait for treatment,” she said.
 
“What we identified was that it was key to put more work into the referral triage process in order to maximise the quality of referrals from GPs. This then leads to improvements in the quality of provisional diagnosis by our service. We worked closely with GPs in the region to better inform our multidisciplinary triage process. This closer relationship with GPs has enabled us to provide more rapid and accurate provisional diagnosis,” she added.

The future for the Pain Management Service involves ongoing amalgamation of services with the ultimate goal of empowerment of patients in the community, and reduction of the impact on specialist services, and on the Emergency Department where people often present with chronic pain issues.

“In our experience, patients love the new service, and the fact that everything is under one roof; that there are staff that they have a relationship with. That is also a key part of our overall vision, because trust is vital when it comes to treatment,” said Ms Kiernan.

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