On Monday the 16th September, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD announced the successful applicants for the €20 million Sláintecare Integration Fund.
One of the successful applicants was the Towards Selfcare in Headache project submitted by the National Clinical Programme for Neurology (NCPN). The NCPN in partnership with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and the Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI) have joined forces to deliver this innovative approach to headache self-management. This approach to headache care, The Headache Pathway, was originally proposed in the National Clinical Programme for Neurology published in 2016. The evidence-based care pathway for headache, seeks to improve headache outcomes and reduce hospital visits and costs. The Pathway seeks to reduce reliance on secondary care by harnessing existing resources within the community network in supporting recently diagnosed patients. It also promotes a programme of self-care and self-management for those with chronic headache.
The Towards Self Care in Headache programme will have 3 components: 1) Implementation of nurse led clinics 2) collaboration with selected community pharmacies and 3) self-management training sessions and peer support groups in partnership with MAI. In order to improve diagnosis, referral and support in the primary care setting there will be community-based educations sessions for GPs in the pilot clinics and educational sessions for pharmacists by the MAI, IPU and NCP Neurology.
Towards Self Care in Headache will be piloted in 4 locations, Tallaght University Hospital, St. James University Hospital, Galway University Hospital and Beaumont Hospital. Funding will also be provided for a psychologist who will provide support for those with psychological factors, contributing to poor management of headache syndrome.
Patrick Little, CEO of The Migraine Association, in welcoming the announcement said, “patient self-management and patient education is a key component of the services we offer. Migraine is a very specific to each person, so it is imperative that patients learn more about their condition and develop their own self-management plan.” Mr. Little also highlights the importance of the community pharmacist in migraine management, indicating that many migraineurs are self-medicating without the advice of their local pharmacist, leading to an increase in medication overuse headache in the migraine community.
Mr. Little further explained that, “the situation is compounded by the fact that presently Irish GPs only receive 4 hours training in headache at undergraduate level. There is sometimes a knowledge gap there and callers to our information line often highlight this problem. The GP educational sessions, proposed as part of this project, will go a long way to improving patient outcomes at a primary care level.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
• Migraine is the most common primary headache disorder seen by GPs and hospital doctors. Approximately 952,373 people in Ireland suffer from migraine and up to 2.5 million days are lost from work or school due to migraine in Ireland each year. Headache represents the 2nd most frequent condition presenting to Acute Medical Assessment Units and the 7th most frequent to Acute Medical Units. There are approximately 7,000 people with headache disorders on waiting lists and each consultation for headache will trigger a minimum of 2-3 further return visits to hospital. The Headache Pathway has the potential to shift patient care from the costly acute care setting into the community offering integrated, holistic patient centred care.
• The Migraine Association of Ireland provides telephone and online patient information channels, a website for patients and health professionals, nationwide education seminars and accredited Health Professional Training courses in migraine and other headache disorders. MAI have worked collaboratively with IPU on raising awareness of Medication Overuse Headache among pharmacy customers.