Coeliac clinic leads the way with award

Dr William Dickey, gastroenterologist, and Joy Whelan, Dietitian, Western Trust receiving their Advancing Healthcare Award.
Dr William Dickey, gastroenterologist, and Joy Whelan, Dietitian, Western Trust receiving their Advancing Healthcare Award.

A Western Health and Social Care Trust initiative has been named runner up in the finals of the prestigious national 2012 Advancing Healthcare Awards.

Joy Whelan, Dietitian and Dr William Dickey, Clinical Lead in Gastroenterology received the award on behalf of the Western Trust at a special event in London. The project, an Extended Scope Practitioner (ESP) Led Coeliac Clinic, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, was runner-up in the “Rethinking the Patient Care Pathway” category of the Awards.

Dr Dickey has a specialist interest in coeliac disease, a condition affecting 1% of the population which is caused by sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Treatment is a diet which excludes gluten. He has almost 1500 patients with coeliac disease attending his clinics. He commented: “At the start of 2012, nearly 400 patients with coeliac disease were overdue their consultant review appointment. Joy and I discussed setting up a weekly clinic where these patients were seen by a Dietitian instead of a gastroenterologist. We were able to access funding for the project from the acute medical waiting list initiative for one year.”

Joy continued: “At review, patients were interviewed, had standard blood tests taken and received dietary advice as required, with more detailed dietetic follow-up arranged where needed. Any medical issues or abnormal blood results were discussed with the consultant, who gave advice or arranged to see the patient himself if necessary.”

The appointment waiting list was eliminated within twelve months of the clinic’s operation. The process is easily transferrable to other Trusts and all dietetic services within Northern Ireland are being informed of the project.