In its submission, the Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (IrSPEN), with the support of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) focuses on three recommendations that have the potential to protect the nutritional status of patients at highest risk because of underlying medical conditions. These are:
- To address the major gaps in systems and resourcing of nutritional care in cancer, despite the high prevalence of cancer related malnutrition and its adverse impact on treatment effectiveness, complication rates, quality of life and survival.
- To further develop a national programme for Intestinal Failure (IF) to provide optimum care for vulnerable patients who face unacceptably high morbidity and mortality risks, and where Ireland is an outlier in Europe with no defined specialist IF units.
- To address the gaps in nutritional care for vulnerable groups living at home,ensuring that they are in the best possible physical condition to benefit from medical, surgical and social interventions designed to treat their underlying conditions. Improved nutritional status has been shown to reduce overall healthcare costs and usage as well as improving patient outcomes.
These three areas and recommended levels of funding are:
- Ensure early access to nutritional care for cancer patients – investment required of €1.7m per annum.
- Funding to establish a Specialist Intestinal Failure Centre for adult patients in Ireland – €4m full year running costs / €1.8m in 2022 (from quarter 3).
- Nutritional training and screening for vulnerable older people living at home – opportunity costs est. €0.7m, pilot scheme funding €150k.