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In December 2009, Welsh Government published a Strategy for Lymphoedema in Wales.  The main aims of the Lymphoedema Strategy were to:-

  • Raise the awareness of lymphoedema and how simple treatment strategies can improve patients’ quality of life;
  • Improve health and well-being by empowering patients to maximise their own independence and minimise the risks associated with lymphoedema;
  • Integrate, develop, reconfigure and more effectively plan and manage lymphoedema services throughout Wales in line with the seven HBs;
  • Improve patient access to lymphoedema services ensuring that patients receive the right treatment at the right time by the right professional in the right place;
  • Provide a comprehensive risk reduction approach to all patients at risk of developing lymphoedema thereby reducing the demand on other NHS services;
  • Build on the strengths of the secondary care lymphoedema services integrating across organisational boundaries, incorporating community, primary care and social services;
  • Develop and build on the current available lymphoedema education provision enabling health care professionals to easily access local courses to implement in their own practice;

In April 2011 £1 million pounds of recurring WG funding was made available to implement the Lymphoedema Strategy and a National Clinical Lead for Lymphoedema was appointed. Since January 2012, all Health Boards (HBs) in Wales have had an equitable Lymphoedema Service offering assessment and care and Lymphoedema Network Wales (as it was then known) was born.

However, the initial funding allocation was based on the demand for treating around 6,000 patients per year. Five years following its inception, demand had increased by 333% to over 20,000.

In December 2018, the Value-Based Lymphoedema Business Case was developed and in May 2019 it was supported by Welsh Government and seven health board Chief Executives. Additional investment was secured for more national posts and each health board agreed to sustain and implement further phases of the Strategy.

Consequently, Lymphoedema Network Wales (as it was originally known), rebranded to become Lymphoedema Wales Clinical Network (LWCN). At the same time, the Lymphoedema Wales National Team - which was previously hosted by the NHS Wales Collaborative - moved across to Swansea Bay University Health Board.

The LWCN Strategy Board is responsible for maintaining strategic oversight and ensuring the delivery of the Network’s ambitions, whilst the Programme Board oversees overall progress, supporting decision making and providing both challenge and approval on issues affecting the entire programme. As well as the executive members, both boards have patient representation, and we also have a Patient Advisory Panel.

LWCN’s programmes of work represent the basic principles of Value-Based Healthcare, (which has patient-centred care at its core) and in addition to local services and national clinics, include a number of pan-wales projects. The impact that Lymphoedema Services across Wales are having is measured in accordance with its Evaluation Framework.

The Network publishes activity data for each health board on a six monthly basis as well as an Annual Report for all provision and activity. These reports are used to evidence the need for further service change and improvement.