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Bridging The Gap - Private Lymphoedema Services By Jane Wigg

15th Australasian Lymphology Association (ALA), Adelaide

Pictured from left: Jen Bartlett - Chair of Lipoedema Australia, Sandi Hayes, Griffith University, Ramin Shayan, St Vincent Institute, Helen Eason, University of Sydney, Jane Wigg, LTA and LymphVision




Having returned from the Australasian Lymphology Association (ALA), and delivered four papers, it fills me with delight that now, after 10 years, ICG imaging is recognised as standard (private) lymphoedema care. In 2014, our clinics and training were viewed with horror as we led to take training and patient care into the future.

Our (my) publications over the years are now mirrored by huge hospitals and teaching establishments such as Macquarie University and ALERT (Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research, Treatment). It demonstrates that ICG imaging and our statistics are generally matched by ALERT and that ICG imaging and mapping make a difference and informs on care.

Understanding the changes to practice and changes in treatment protocols provides improved outcomes and quality of life. The presentation that I provided on changing treatment protocols and ‘anoikis’ had people standing outside the doors to hear it, with therapists and organisations keen to change immediately. Today, we also have our Advanced Skills Training for Manual Therapists taking place, training them to be able to offer all lymphoedema management, including multi-layer bandaging,  and management of midline, head and neck, and genital lymphoedema.

So now it is time to embrace change, gain an army of expert lymphoedema therapists, and start giving patients what they need to live a better life.

With that, I want to share a recently written article about why specially trained 'manual lymphoedema therapists’ are essential to supporting the NHS.

 


Bridging the Gap: Private Lymphoedema Services

Supporting Your NHS Journey

 

 

Why become a private lymphoedema therapist?

We are proud that Lymphoedema Training Academy (LTA) is addressing the lack of NHS services by training a workforce of skilled therapists to offer what the NHS does and doesn’t offer. Not only that, but our sister company, LymphVision, provides specialist lymphoedema services, allowing people with lymphoedema to gain a better understanding of their treatment and undergo specialist imaging and examination to help advance and improve their condition faster.


Why is this important?

Living with chronic primary or secondary lymphoedema can present its own set of challenges, and for many patients, the prospect of navigating the NHS waitlist can be a daunting experience. However, there's a silver lining! Private lymphoedema services are stepping up to the plate, not to replace but to complement and support the incredible work of our NHS practitioners.


Why private lymphoedema services?

Private lymphoedema services are playing a critical role in complementing NHS efforts and providing timely support and relief to those in need. The services do this by addressing several factors:

  1. Swift access to specialised care

In a perfect world, healthcare would be instantaneous, but we live in a world with waiting lists. Private lymphoedema services offer a shortcut, providing swift access to specialised care that ensures your lymphatic needs are addressed promptly.

  1. Personalised treatment plans

One size doesn't fit all, especially when it comes to healthcare. Private services pride themselves on tailoring treatment plans to meet your unique needs. Whether it's compression therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, or a combination of therapies, the goal is to create a plan as unique as you are. At LymphVision, we also map the lymphatic system using ICG imaging to identify lymphoedema early and intervene early, referring to a local therapists for any ongoing management. In addition, we provide pre-surgical screening packages to ensure that any lymphatic failure is addressed swiftly.

  1. Working hand-in-hand with NHS practitioners

Private services aren't here to work in isolation but rather to complement the efforts of our NHS superheroes. Private lymphoedema services understand the importance of collaboration. Many practitioners in private lymphoedema services collaborate seamlessly with NHS professionals, sharing insights, progress, and recommendations to ensure a cohesive approach to your care. Our training at LTA insists on forming relationships between both sectors to ensure easy flow of treatment.

  1. Beating the waiting game

There is no doubt that the NHS is fantastic; we worked in and with the NHS as clinicians in NHS services, even developing them from the ground up, but sometimes the waiting game for an NHS appointment can be tough. Private services can provide interim support, ensuring patients are not left waiting in discomfort. Once NHS appointments come through, it becomes a collaborative effort—you, as a private therapist, sharing insights to make the NHS journey even smoother.

  1. Education for empowerment

Understanding the individual’s condition is crucial for effective management. Private lymphoedema services often emphasise patient education, empowering patients with the knowledge and tools to actively participate in their own care. This knowledge becomes a valuable asset when working in tandem with NHS practitioners.

  1. The human touch

It's not just about treating a condition; it's about caring for the person. Private lymphoedema services often offer that extra level of personal attention and care, creating a supportive environment that complements the compassionate care provided by the NHS.

  1. The extra bits

Private lymphoedema services, such as LymphVision, have access to resources that allow them to invest in facilities, advanced tools, and a diverse range of complementary therapies, which may not be as readily available within the constraints of the NHS. This flexibility enables private clinics to create an environment equipped with cutting-edge equipment and technologies, ensuring our patients receive the highest quality of care.

  1. No criteria, no problem.

While the NHS has some services established for lymphoedema, those needing them can be faced with not only a waitlist but possibly not even meeting the criteria to obtain an appointment. This may be due to their medical history, the type of lymphoedema, the cause of the lymphoedema, or even being overweight. These criteria can vary between geographical locations, unfortunately creating a ‘postcode lottery’. Some patients seeking referral find that their nearest service is too far away for them to easily access, or that the appointment offered is more limited than they ideally need, or that the appointments are too short or too far apart to be effective. Private lymphoedema clinics avoid these challenges by offering expedited access to care, flexible appointment scheduling, and support to anyone who accesses the services.  In addition, the unique treatment protocols, harvest a faster reduction of lymphoedema and long term, maintained outcomes.


How can you benefit?

If you are, or you know people on an NHS waitlist or seeking additional support, exploring private lymphoedema, services like LymphVision or training to become a Specialist LTA manual therapist, could be the key to unlocking a more streamlined and personalised healthcare journey. Don't let restrictions hold you back; take charge of your well-being by exploring all of the resources available to you.



The elephant in the room: cost

While private lymphoedema services come with a cost, the advantages they offer in terms of personalised care, expertise, and a patient-centric approach can make them a worthwhile investment for those seeking comprehensive and efficient management of lymphoedema.

Choosing private care can offer a more streamlined and holistic experience, addressing the unique needs and concerns of individuals without the constraints often associated with public healthcare services.

Many countries are used to paying privately for their healthcare, and for there to be a cost associated with such expert care would come as no surprise. In the UK, even with an established NHS, dentistry and eye care services come with supplementary costs, which, while unfortunate, are widely accepted.

Although paying for services may make private treatments less accessible to all, at LymphVision, we try to reduce the costs to patients as much as possible. We are proud to have held the pricing of our MLD and Assessment costs for the third year running, making the service as accessible as possible. We work with CCGs to have treatments funded where viable and work with private insurers to fund appointments for those with coverage.

In conclusion, private lymphoedema services are not the rivals of our beloved NHS; they are the supporting actors in our health journey. By working together, these services aim to provide the best possible care, address unique needs, and ensure that we can help patients become active participants in their wellness story. So, here's to a collaborative approach that puts your clinic at the forefront—because when it comes to lymphoedema care, we're all in this together!


To find out more about LymphVision’s services, ICG mapping, and screening, please visit www.lymphvision.com or contact our helpful team at 0300 180 0112.


To find out more about how to become a Certified LTA therapist and support the NHS with essential and effective lymphoedema management, please visit www.lymph.org.uk or call 0300 180 0122.


To access a database of over 75 private lymphoedema services throughout the UK, visit: www.lymph.org.uk/directoryoftherapists

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