Today, Friday, 17th February 2023, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, T.D., officially opened the HSE Primary Care Centre in Arklow, part of the national Enhanced Community Care (ECC) programme. The ECC programme is already making substantial progress nationally, reducing pressure on services and dependence on the hospital-centric model of care through enhanced and increased community services. Developed as part of implementing Sláintecare, the ECC programme aims to ensure all HSE primary and community care services work in an integrated way to meet population health needs across Ireland, to reduce dependence on hospital services and provide access to consultant-led specialist services in the community.
Arklow Primary Care Centre will offer a full range of multi-disciplinary primary care and community-based services to the residents of Arklow and surrounding towns including Avoca, Red Cross, Woodenbridge and Ballycoogue.
Speaking at the opening event, Minister Donnelly said: “ECC is a significant investment in community healthcare services in the HSE, aiming to provide more services closer to people’s homes, and provide extra services for older people, or people who live with long-term health conditions.
94 Community Healthcare Networks, 21 Community Specialist Teams for Older Persons and 21 Chronic Disease Community Specialist Teams have been established, and 21 community intervention teams are now in place with national coverage. Community diagnostic services provided over 253,000 scans to patients in 2022”.
The Minister added: “The national Enhanced Community Care programme is at its core a reform programme, representing an investment of €240 million to develop and enhance care in the community. It has been developed under the Sláintecare Programme to ensure all HSE primary and community care services work together effectively”.
Services are currently being operationalised in Arklow Primary Care Centre on a phased basis with all services expected to be onsite within the next six months. When fully operational, it will offer a full spectrum of primary care services including Public Health Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, Psychology, Podiatry, Chiropody, Dental, Social Work, and Speech and Language Therapy. Senior Medical Officers and a Health Promotion and Improvement Officer will also form part of this multi-disciplinary, primary care team.
Other specialist onsite teams will include a Mental Health Team offering integrated outpatient-focused mental health care for the local community, and a Children’s Disability Network Team (CDNT) to support children with complex disabilities and their families.
The Centre will also offer residents swift access to X-ray and ultrasound diagnostics services as well as a diabetes and retina screening service. A number of auxiliary and outreach services will also operate from the centre including specialist adult and YoDA (Youth Drug and Alcohol) addiction services, TUSLA Child and Family Services, and an antenatal Domino scheme in collaboration with the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street.
Maryville GP practice and McGorisks Pharmacy are also onsite. In addition, Caredoc will deliver a GP Out of Hour’s service for South Wicklow and a Community Intervention Team Service. This is a General Practitioner led, nurse delivered, specialist team that provides nursing care to patients in the community in order to support and deliver on early hospital discharge and hospital avoidance for patients.
There are eight Community Healthcare Networks (CHNs) operational in HSE Community Healthcare East (which serves Wicklow, Dublin South and Dublin South East), two of which cover County Wicklow. Arklow Primary Care Centre is part of Community Healthcare Network 8 and is Community Healthcare East’s largest CHN geographically serving over 60,000 people (based on projected growth from the 2016 Census).
Martina Queally, Chief Officer, HSE Community Healthcare East said:
“An essential theme underlying the ECC Programme is developing a new, integrated model of care, delivered through Primary Care Centres and Integrated Care Hubs, which is responsive to the needs of local communities. HSE Community Healthcare East recently launched the first Integrated Care Hub in Ireland in Bray, County Wicklow, to support the provision of community specialist services for older persons and people living with chronic diseases. We are in the process of expanding this model of care through the development of more Integrated Care Hubs and Primary Care Centres across the region. These facilities will help us to deliver a much more patient-focused and integrated model of care in each locality.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the Managers and staff in HSE Community Healthcare East, the GP and Consultant leads, and our colleagues in Ireland East Hospital Group, St Vincent’s, St. Michael’s and St. Columcille’s Hospitals for the time and commitment they’ve provided to the development of the ECC programme so far. I would also like to thank the large number of people that have been involved in the development of infrastructure and services at Arklow Primary Care Centre for the ongoing care and support they are providing to the local community.”
Niamh McAlinden, Acting Head of Service Primary Care for HSE Community Healthcare East, added:
“Arklow Primary Care Centre is one of the largest in County Wicklow. Along with Bray, Wicklow town and Rathdrum Primary Care Centres, it is another example of the significant, and much valued, investment in County Wicklow’s health infrastructure.
This investment has enabled Community Healthcare East to support the vision articulated in Sláintecare to provide the right care, in the right place at the right time. Centres like this one in Arklow, facilitate a collaborative healthcare system, where primary care services are integrated with other community services such as Local Sports Partnerships, County Wicklow Partnership and Local Community Development Committees. By working together we can help keep people well in their homes, provide healthcare services closer to home, and improve the overall health and wellbeing of the local population.”