Who knows what in rare disease? Engagement, information and communication

As part of the work on the NI Rare Disease Plan, NIRDP has been running a series of Workshops across Northern Ireland, and an Online Survey, to identify information needs in relation to rare disease issues; what information is currently available and what information people would like to help them live or work with rare conditions.

On 7 June, a workshop chaired by Professor Ian Young, the Chief Scientific Officer and Chair of the NI Rare Disease Implementation Group,  heard about progress in genetics, presented by Dr Tabib Dabir, Clinical Lead, NI Regional Medical Genetics Service (and member of NIRDP’s Board)  and in metabolics, presented by Dr Clodagh Loughrey, Consultant Chemical Pathologist and Clinical Director Laboratories, BHSCT.

It’s clear from these presentations that the pathway to diagnosis, and the options available for management and treatment of complex and rare conditions, will soon alter dramatically.  Indeed some changes are already happening, with an individual’s genetic make up helping to determine the best course of treatment in some cases. It’s essential that we think through how to make best use of these advances!

Participants then considered the emerging findings from the Workshops and the Survey, presented by Dr Jane Miller, Research Fellow at the NI Genomic Medicine Centre  and NIRDP Chair Fiona McLaughlin, before working in five groups to validate and  consider how progress could be made on the key areas identified in the Workshops and in the Survey.

Suggestions for improving information and communications

  • Develop care pathways / flow charts / support plans / signposting.
  • Have one ‘go to person’ who co-ordinates care and information sharing between those involved in care:  “Care navigators” to support patients, families, and clinicians.
  • Develop a hub / portal for accessing information for medics, other professionals and people with a rare condition/disease.
  • Develop referral routes to support groups, or to other people with the same condition, from the point of diagnosis.
  • Look and take learning from other models e.g. Cancer Care; Maternity Care (where mothers hold information in The Red Book) Downs Syndrome etc.

There were many valuable suggestions, and much learning across the whole group- for example, about the proposed introduction of the SNOMED coding system across both primary and secondary care; and planned technological developments within Health & Social Care.  Also, locally based training for patients, along the lines of the EUPATI modules some of our members are already familiar with, is hopefully to become available.

We are still processing all the information that emerged; and planning follow up through a virtual working group to take forward the ideas in more detail.

Further details to follow- watch this space!

And if you haven’t already done so, please complete the Survey and get your family and health care colleagues to do so too …

Great News! NI’s RD Implementation Plan and Genomic Medicine Centre Announced

Minister Simon Hamilton today  announced a £3.3m investment into the creation of an innovative Northern Ireland Genomics Medicine Centre (NIGMC); and formally launched the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Implementation Plan: wonderful news for patients, carers, and clinicians living and working with rare disease!
Minister Hamilton said:
“The Plan embodies my commitment to implement the UK Rare Diseases Strategy in Northern Ireland. It provides a holistic approach to caring for people with a rare disease and to maximise the available resources for research, innovation and collaboration across the UK to benefit the entire rare disease community. The Plan also provides the opportunity to work with the Republic of Ireland to realise the mutual benefits of cross ­border collaboration on rare diseases.”

For everyone living and working with rare disease, this  commitment by the Minister brings hope, and an opportunity to participate in building a better future for all families living with a rare disease. It’s a superb new resource for the clinicians working to give their patients a diagnosis and improve understanding of their conditions. It gives a clear framework and impetus for work on  creating new pathways for treatment and management.

We’ve worked together (patients, families, elected reps, clinicians, managers, officials) to get the UK Strategy; the NI Plan; and the Genomic Medicine Centre.  We will keep working together, to reap the full benefits and provide better opportunities for all our young people and families into the future.

Implementation Plan Consultation: Open Meetings

The Open Meetings on the Draft Rare Disease Implementation Plan are ongoing:

6 January 2015: Lecture Theatre, Level 2, South West Acute Hospital, 124 Irvinestown Road, Enniskillen Co Fermanagh, BT74 6DN, 3.30pm to 5.30 pm

7 January 2015: Mourne Country Hotel, 52 Belfast Road, Newry, Co Down BT34 1TR, 7pm to 9 pm

8 January 2015: Conference Room, Portadown Health and Social Services Centre, Tavanagh Avenue, Portadown, BT62 3BU, 2pm to 4pm

12 January 2015: Whinstone Suite, Antrim Civic Centre, 50 Stiles Way, Antrim, BT41 2UB, 1pm to 4 pm

13 January 2015: Lecture Theatre, Block A, Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6BA, 2pm to 5pm PLEASE NOTE: NEW TIME!!

This is your chance:

  • to listen to what is in the Plan; ( http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/showconsultations?txtid=74325 )
  •  to have your say, about what matters to you- whether it’s in relation to a health or social care aspect of living or working with a rare disease, or how having a rare condition impacts on education, transport, work, or housing.

Whether you are a patient, a carer, a member of Health and Social Care staff, or anyone whose work involves tackling the challenges of rare disease, this is your opportunity to shape the future; and to make a difference.

Please register through eventbrite,  http://nirdp.eventbrite.co.uk-  so we know numbers/needs for catering; and so that we can make sure there is enough reserved parking for disabled access etc.   But if you don’t register, you will still be very welcome!