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High cost of NHS wound care could be reduced by wider training for clinical staff

Training non-specialist clinicians in the fundamentals of wound management would help improve health outcomes and reduce the huge economic burden that wounds impose on the NHS, new research suggests.

Picture credit: David Gee

UK researchers used The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database to study the anonymised records of 1,000 adult patients who had a wound in 2012-13, and matched them with 1,000 patients without wounds who acted as controls.

They found that an estimated 2.2 million wounds were managed by the NHS in 2012-13, at a cost of around £5 billion, which is comparable to the cost of managing obesity. Resources attributable to managing wounds and their associated comorbidities included 18.6 million practice nurse visits and 10.9 million community nurse visits.

The research also revealed a lack of evidence-based care, with almost one third of patients not receiving a differential diagnosis for their wound. Despite national guidance requiring an ankle brachial pressure index (ABPI) measurement in the management of all lower limb ulcers, just 16% of patients were documented as receiving this.

A lack of involvement of specialist clinicians in the care of wounds, such as tissue viability nurses, was also identified.

‘Clinical and economic benefits could accrue from improved systems of care and increased awareness of the impact that wounds impose on patients and the NHS,’ the study authors said.

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