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Lymphoedema service success leads to national recognition for Swansea Bay doctor

Image shows a woman holding an award

An innovative service that quickly helped identify new or deteriorating lymphoedema issues during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has gained further recognition for one of its developers.

The award-winning Lymphoedema Patient Reported Outcome Measure (LYMPROM) supports virtual assessments and a more in-depth and holistic approach to treatment.

Created in Swansea Bay, its success has attracted interest from health organisations around the world as they contemplate adopting the system.

And now it has delivered more success for Dr Marie Gabe-Walters at a UK awards event hosted in London.

Dr Gabe-Walters is a National Research and Innovation Lymphoedema Specialist based in Cimla Health and Social Care Centre.

She has been a key figure in the development of LYMPROM across the health board.

Image shows a women sat at a desk wearing a mask Lymphoedema is caused by a build-up of lymph fluid. It can lead to swollen limbs that leak fluid, decreased mobility, pain, anxiety and depression and frequent admission to hospital with cellulitis.

Previously, nurses and therapists completed patients’ paper forms during face-to-face appointments, but when the Covid pandemic materialised, digital access to LYMPROM was expedited. It instantly provided the resolution during a time where access and travel was severely restricted.

The introduction of LYMPROM using an online form has helped patients fill in their assessment beforehand, where they rate 13 topics, including pain, discomfort and anxiety levels between 0 (no impact) to 10 (extreme impact).

That feedback not only explains how lymphoedema is affecting the patient, it also allows the therapist to understand their treatment needs for ongoing support through the service.

Lymphoedema affects just under 4,000 people in the Swansea Bay area.

The implementation of LYMPROM and the efficiency in which it was rolled out helped deliver the treatment needed to patients during Covid in a safe manner.

Dr Gabe-Walters said: “We did a lot more virtual consultations as we really needed to see what was important to the patients.

“If the patient ranked topics as ones and twos, then it was better to speak over the phone instead of calling them into the hospital during a time when the risk of catching Covid was far higher.”

Image shows three people on stage at an awards ceremony The success of LYMPROM, which scooped the Recognising Excellence in Rehabilitation category at the 2021 Advancing Healthcare Awards Wales, later led to Dr Gabe-Walters being crowned Chronic Oedema Nurse of the Year at the 2022 British Journal of Nursing Awards.

The award identifies those who have made an outstanding contribution in their clinical practice, geographical region, or area of research. It also determines whether the winner has introduced or developed an innovative or creative idea that clearly shows their nursing care has gone the extra mile.

PICTURED: Dr Walters receives her Chronic Oedema Nurse of the Year at the 2022 British Journal of Nursing Awards.

She said: “Winning the award was fantastic, but it is evidence of the hard work from all of the team at Lymphoedema Wales that has gone into developing LYMPROM.

“The platform has been adapted to suit patients and their care, which is the most important thing.

“It has proved really successful in that respect, and we look forward to seeing it roll out across other health boards and organisations across the world so that it can help even more patients.

“Using a platform that has been configured by Swansea Bay and colleagues across Wales, provides an opportunity for it be replicated globally, and that would be a very proud moment for us all.”

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