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Improving access to health care in Swansea Bay highlighted at international conference

Angharad Ladd, far right. 

Improving patients’ access to health care in Swansea Bay has been spotlighted at an international conference in Holland.

Healthcare workers from across the world attended the exchange event at Rotterdam University as part of its International Advanced Practice Week, to share experiences of their roles and how they influence and impact their health care settings.

Speakers included advanced physiotherapist practitioner Angharad Ladd, who works on Swansea Bay’s chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) team, as well as working as an advanced practitioner senior lecturer at Swansea University.

She said: “In the UK, advanced practitioners come from a range of professional backgrounds such as nursing, pharmacy, paramedics, physiotherapy and other multi-professional backgrounds.

“They are healthcare professionals educated to master’s level and have developed the skills and knowledge to allow them to take on expanded roles and scope of practice caring for patients.

“At advanced practitioner level you are autonomous and are responsible for assessing and treating patients yourself. You will assess a patient, undertake investigations and diagnose them and treat them independently.

“It improves access to healthcare, but in America and Europe, it is only nurses who are able to train to that level.

“Delegates were very interested in learning about the multi-disciplinary aspect we share.

“In Holland in particular it is a very new role for nurses, so there were a lot of people finding their feet and keen to network with people from the UK to learn about their experiences.”

As an advanced practitioner within the COPD team, Angharad works with patients with chest and respiratory problems, managing their health needs and episodes of care independently.

Her team supports patients who have come into hospital with infections and exacerbations from COPD and help facilitate early hospital discharges.

Once home, the team helps patients manage their chronic disease, supporting them to keep well at home, aiming to promote self-management and admission avoidance.

Angharad Ladd

“I go out and assess patients, give lifestyle advice, and as a physio promote exercise at home,” Angharad said.

“But in addition to that because of advanced practitioner skills, I can order and interpret investigations and treat them appropriately with medication which I can prescribe, in addition to the non-medication side of things.

“It is an opportunity to improve patient access to healthcare; they can access people within these roles, and it means people get treated and assessed appropriately by people with expertise and skills within that field.

“At the conference people were intrigued because they don’t have people who aren’t nurses in these roles in other countries.

“I was able to link some of them with people with similar roles within Swansea Bay and within the UK and Wales.

“In particular there were a couple of people working in a sexual health clinic keen to develop that role in Rotterdam. I was able to put them in touch with someone in a similar role in Swansea Bay.

“There was also a fantastic advanced practitioner-led service we visited looking after residential care residents, and I was able to link them with people working in our memory clinics.”

She added: “I got to speak to delegates from all over the world, as well as the students within the university, so it was a fantastic opportunity to not only network and collaborate, share best practice, but also see how the roles are similar, and how they vary, across the world.”

Main picture: Angharad Ladd - far right 

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