IrSPEN’s (Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition & Metabolism) national conference and policy seminar in Dublin discussed the urgent need for better treatment of patients with serious and long-term nutritional problems and the management of patients with chronic diseases. A key concept was that malnutrition and disease go hand in hand, with many patients becoming undernourished due to the effects of diseases, such as cancer. The seminar focused on the lack of specialist services available for people suffering with intestinal failure, a condition where the intestines are unable to digest food or absorb fluids, in addition to patients who receive home parenteral nutrition.
According to available data, over 256 patients with intestinal failure were discharged on intravenous nutrition (2010-16) from at least 21 Irish hospitals, none of which have the training, resources or specialist experience necessary to the meet minimum guidelines standards produced within the NHS system. To address the absence of a specialist service in the Republic of Ireland, and bring Ireland in line with international best practice, IrSPEN is calling on the HSE for €4.2 million to establish an eight-bed national centre for intestinal failure in St James’s Hospital.
Best practic for the management of malnutrition caused by complex obesity was also a topic for discussion. Treatment of obesity-related diseases, such as bariatric surgery, is clinically effective to improve health and the quality of life of Irish patients. New Irish research shows a substantial proportion of older Irish adults (7.9 per cent) are potentially eligible for gastric band surgery, indicating a need to strategise and expand the provision of specialist care and interventional programmes for complex obesity in Ireland.