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ACE awarded new lymphoedema service contract for North East Essex

A new single lymphoedema service has been launched across north east Essex which aims to offer an improved service to the thousands of people who suffer with this condition. Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE) has been awarded the contract by NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.

Lymphoedema can occur when the lymphatic system is damaged and can cause swelling anywhere in the body but most commonly in the arms and legs. In the past, patients have been treated by one of two services run at The Oaks Hospital in Colchester and at St Helena Hospice in Colchester and at its day-centre in Clacton.

The new ACE Lymphoedema Service launched on 20th April 2015 offers patients a fully inclusive, more seamless service and individualised care plans.

ACE Lymphoedema Service Lead, Sara Percival, said:

“We are very excited to be launching this new service. I, and my colleagues – Gael Lennox, Jennie Doran and Elizabeth Barrowclough – have all worked locally in lymphoedema care for many years so we will be familiar faces to many, but this is an opportunity to bring the previously two separately run services together.”

“We can merge our existing skills and, very importantly, tap into other health improvement services run by ACE such as weight management, our community nursing team and specialist tissue viability and vascular teams, to offer a more holistic approach to educating and treating people with lymphoedema. It’s a condition which is anticipated to affect up to three per cent of the population so we believe there is a large un-met need in the community out there.

“Some people are born with lymphoedema whilst others develop it following surgery, particularly cancer surgery, or other trauma incidents. Whichever way people develop the condition, our aim is to give them back control over their lives. Where appropriate we can carry out massage, compression bandaging and other specialist treatments together with teaching self-massage and skin care plus offer advice on lifestyle changes.”

Clinics will initially run at the St Edmund’s Centre in Colchester and the Jubilee Centre at Clacton Hospital, Monday-Friday but the plan in the future is to offer weekend and evening appointments and other locations.

People have to be referred to the service in the first instance by a health professional but individuals who have been diagnosed with the condition might wish to contact Linda McFadden, secretary of the North Essex Lymphoedema Support Group, on 01206 241338.

Lymphoedema patient Marion Rowland MBE said:

“I am so pleased there will be a new service, and feel that ACE has taken in a lot of advice by listening to the needs of lymphoedema patients. This condition can be very debilitating and we hope we will receive at least the same excellent services we received before.”

 

Dr Mark Roberts, clinical lead at NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“With the ACE Lymphoedema Service, patients will be offered a service that is often more convenient and more responsive to each patient’s needs. This is a significant step forward.”