Since the nurse-led liver centre, which supports patients discharged from hospital with advanced liver disease, was established at the hospital in 2018 re-admissions for clients in the area has dropped from between 30 to 40 per cent to just 12 per cent – and has been linked to an improvement in survival rates.
Dr Richard Aspinall, clinical lead for hepatology, said: ‘Patients admitted to hospital with liver disease are known to have high rates of emergency readmission after discharge. These readmissions are most commonly due to factors such as a build-up of abdominal fluid, confusion due to an increase in excess toxins, or through ongoing alcohol dependency.
‘Although these problems can be effectively treated, patients are often readmitted to hospital while awaiting clinic appointments with consultants. To combat this, we designed and set up a dedicated early post-discharge clinic led by specialist nurses. To ensure patients are receiving effective treatment for their cirrhosis, they attend the clinic within the first two weeks of going home after being discharged.’
Specifically the clinic works with patients to provide clinical and emotional support to improve their health and manage the symptoms of liver disease, including nutritional advice, overcoming alcohol misuse, and optimising their medications.
Portsmouth resident Stephen Peacock has been receiving treatment for decompensated liver cirrhosis at QA and was once a frequent inpatient.
After referral to the clinic he has not required any further inpatient care. And more recently, he was referred for a new radiology procedure known as TIPS (transjugular intra hepatic shunt), a specialist radiology procedure to reduce high liver blood pressure, due to chronic liver disease.
Previously patients would have to travel to Southampton or London for the treatment.
Stephen said: ‘I used to work for a food and drink wholesaler where unfortunately alcohol was really cheap, and I paid the price. With the help of the amazing nurses in the liver clinic I have been able to stay out of hospital, but also due to the shunt, I have reduced the number of times I have to attend the clinic.
‘I cannot thank the nurses and team at QA enough – they have been an amazing support to me.’