A proposed education clinic for tamariki with eczema and dermititis has received the 2021 Pinnacle Medical Scholarship, including $10,000 in funding to support the initiative.
The project is led by Raglan-based GP Dr Adrian Wilson, in response to seeing large numbers of ongoing, poorly-managed eczema cases in young children.
“A lot of the problems with eczema treatment are to do with the education aspect,” says Adrian.
“The barriers to accessing information and support for self-management result in regular, recurrent flare ups, cellulitis, increased use of antibiotics, distressed children and frustrated parents when they can’t get on top of it.”
Eczema and dermititis can lead to significant ill health for children, often in the first three to four years of life, including an increased risk of scarlet fever. Eczema and complications from eczema are also known to disproportionately affect tamariki Māori.
The nurse-led eczema clinic in Raglan will take a holistic, evidence-based approach to provide information and support for self-management, such as avoiding triggers and self-care strategies. Follow up appointments will help reinforce what works and provide opportunities for further solutions.
“A lot of it is very basic management that isn’t specialised, except in severe cases,” says Adrian. “I have a personal interest in helping families, with two young kids myself. It’s very difficult to get in to see a dermatologist, and the majority of cases will get the same information we can give them here.”
Initially based at Raglan Medical Centre, the eczema clinic plans to extend to Kohanga Reo, early childhood education providers and primary schools in Raglan, to ensure it reaches as many affected tamariki as possible.
“Including the community is an important part of ensuring equity of access, reaching those children who might not come in to the medical centre,” says Adrian.
“Making the clinic cost-free for patients and setting it up so there are plenty of nurses trained to provide standardised care will also help keep the the service accessible.”
The $10,000 provided by the scholarship will primarily be used to fund training for multiple nurses and increase staff hours to run the clinic, as well as covering the cost of extended consult times.
Along with the monetary prize, the project will also receive leadership support from Pinnacle medical director, Dr Jo Scott-Jones.
Jo, who reviewed all the scholarship applications along with Dr Brandon Eade and Dr Dave Maplesden, says the high calibre of applications this year meant the scholarship decision wasn’t an easy one to make.
“The Medical Scholarship is designed to support a particular practice-level activity that is scalable and has the potential to help improve outcomes across the whole network,” says Jo.
“Adrian is a young doctor with leadership potential and his proposed project addresses one of the key issues for children, particularly for Māori children.”
“We want to use this project to develop pathways of care around skin conditions in children that can be shared across the Pinnacle network.”
The Raglan eczema clinic project is currently in the planning stages, with the aim of starting the service in August this year.
Measurement and continuous assessment will be built in to the clinic plan, with set goals to track outcomes, identify learnings and collate the different steps taken into a summary report that can be shared with the Pinnacle community.
Ultimately, the goal is to enable better self-care and management for tamariki with eczema and dermititis, and their families, resulting in lower rates of antibiotic use and happier, more comfortable children.