Bengoa: WHSCT lung service could be an innovative model for the reform of the health service

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and Professor Rafael Bengoa.
Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and Professor Rafael Bengoa.

An integrated respiratory service pioneered in the Western Trust to tackle an above-average lung disease death rate should be rolled out across the North to help improve an ailing health service.

Basque health expert Dr Rafael Bengoa suggested the approach to respiratory health in the North West could be used as a model for “aggressively scaling up good practice.”

The recommendation was made in Dr Bengoa’s expert panel report, ‘Systems, not structures: Changing Health and Social Care,’ which was published on Tuesday.

Recommendation eight of Dr Bengoa’s road map for health reform suggested the system should identify and scale up at least two innovative projects per year where there is clear evidence of improved outcomes for patients or service users.”

It cited the local respiratroy service as an example.

In 2013 deaths from respiratory diseases accounted for 16.2 per cent of all deaths in the Western Trust, which was two per cent higher than the average across the North.

The report acknowledged this was going to rise as most such deaths occur among the elderly population.

“It was decided to create a WHSCT Integrated Respiratory Service that would enable patients with a chronic respiratory condition to be cared for in the most appropriate setting, by the most appropriate person, with access to specialist respiratory advice to enable the patients to achieve maximum health and improved health outcomes,” the report stated.

A new Community Respiratory Team (CRT) also ensured patients and carers would receive a high standard of co-ordinated care.

Dr Bengoa and his panel praised this approach and said it was the way forward.