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Kathryn Vowden - The Burden of Wound Care

I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with Julian Guest on the Burden of Wound Care study and also with NHS England as part of the improving wound care project. Both these initiatives I believe have already raised awareness and will (with the recent National Strategy) facilitate change, develop wound care services and be a tremendous benefit to patients.

Assessment has been recognised as one of the key areas where opportunities for improvement in wound care exist. The improving wound care project’s vision is that better early assessment and accurate categorisation of wound type will allow effective treatment, better monitoring of progress and improved outcomes such as symptom control and earlier healing. The CQUIN and wound care minimum data set have been developed by the group to set the required standard and reduce variance across England.

The series of publications by Guest et al that have followed from the burden of wounds study provide more specific information on wound types and found that more than 41% of all wounds are on the lower limb. It also revealed wide spread problems in assessment, diagnosis and management of lower limb wounds.

Betty’s case has been used to illustrate the problems that can result from poor initial assessment and management decisions in leg ulcer care and compares costs, nursing time and the consequences for the patients when compared with “good” care.

Nurses face many challenges in today’s NHS with nursing time being at a premium.We must consider investing our limited time wisely. Time invested to properly assess patients with wounds, combined with early effective treatment will improve healing, save us time and reduce the cost.

Kathryn Vowden BEM, Nurse Consultant and Lecturer, University of Bradford

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