Wales gets national lead for lymphoedema in children

Physio Melanie Thomas has hailed the appointment of a national leader for lymphoedema in children in Wales as ‘a really exciting development’.

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Welsh national clinical lead for lymphoedema: physio Melanie Thomas

Ms Thomas, the Welsh national clinical lead for lymphoedema, told Frontline that Elizabeth Coveney, a radiographer who has specialised in lymphoedema treatment for many years, took up her post on 1 November.

Ms Coveney has worked at St George's University Hospitals NHS Trust in south London and has been based at the Singleton Hospital in Swansea, part of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, for the past 10 years.

‘There is a lot of work to be done in raising awareness because many healthcare professionals assume that swelling is part of the syndrome that the child has and there is not a lot that can be done for it,’ Ms Thomas said.

She gave another welcome to the appointment of physiotherapist Cheryl Pike as the national Macmillan innovation lymphoedema specialist for Wales. Ms Pike took up the post on 1 October.

Funded by the cancer charity Macmillan for two and a half years, Ms Pike will explore research and evidence around lymphatic venous anastomosis – a surgical technique that facilitates drainage of lymphatic fluid into the circulatory system.

Ms Thomas said that health board chiefs and the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee have agreed that another national development, the Curing lymphoedema programme, can go ahead.

This will mean that 42 adults with lymphoedema in Wales can be offered microsurgery as part of their treatment.

Ms Thomas said she and Ms Pike are involved in delivering this: ‘So it is advanced practice. We have a patient group directive and myself and Cheryl are actually injecting dye into the patient and scanning them. It does not need the doctors to that. We are doing it.’

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by Gill Hitchcock

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