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About the NCPs

The National Clinical Programmes (NCPs) have provided a foundation of valuable learning of the need to maintain and enhance clinical leadership and develop clinical pathways that are truly patient-centred.

The programmes' success is due to the close collaboration between the HSE and the Medical Colleges, and working in partnership with patients, nursing and therapy leads, and with the Department of Health. Each of the NCPs has a Clinical Lead, a multi-disciplinary Working Group (including patient representatives), and a Clinical Advisory Group. Having a wide range of clinicians involved means that the proposed solutions will be more robust in their conception, and will be more easily accepted by colleagues at implementation.

The National Clinical Programmes  with a number of supporting initiatives are tasked with improving specific areas within the health service. This is achieved by designing and specifying standardised models of care, guidelines, pathways and associated strategies for the delivery of clinical care. Examples include National Clinical Programmes for Acute Medicine, Acute Surgery, COPD, Diabetes, Emergency Medicine, Critical Care, Chronic Heart Disease, Stroke and many more.

Quick Facts about the National Clinical Programmes

• At present there are 33 National Clinical Programmes in operation

• Designing of models of care, clinical pathways and guidelines have formed the core work of all programmes

• Supporting and guiding implementation in the relevant settings has commenced in a number of areas

• The programmes have developed innovative, efficient and evidence based solutions that can be applied on a national basis across the health system

• NCPs are involved in the development of key national policy strategies such as the

  • National Maternity Strategy
  • National Dementia Strategy
  • National Cancer Strategy, etc.

Some NCPs have developed national guidelines published as National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) guidelines. These include:

• National Early Warning Scores by the NCP for Acute Medicine

• NCEC Guideline No 6: Sepsis

• Management of acute asthma attack in adults

• Management of constipation in adults receiving palliative care

• Irish Maternity Early Warning Scores

• Paediatric Early Warning Scores

Rethinking Care Delivery

The NCPs have made substantial contribution to addressing the various challenges faced by the Irish Health System and while their considerable achievements are clear, the learning over the past 4 years has emphasised the essential need to:

• Maintain and enhance clinical leadership

• Develop clinical pathways that are truly patient-centred, and seamlessly cross-organisational and professional boundaries

• Align programme design with service priorities

• Enhance evidence-base and performance and outcome measurement

• Ensure structured and consistent implementation and align with key enabling functions such as Finance, HR and ICT.

Access to safe, timely care as close to patients’ homes must be a priority going forward, empowering people to manage their health and care needs with support and to live independently in their own homes for longer. Designing and developing integrated and sustainable health and social care services for the future is essential. To this end, the National Clinical Programmes (NCPs) are providing the foundation stones to ‘person-centred and co-ordinated’ Integrated Care Programmes (ICPs).

Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division