Chronic wounds (open sores that don’t repair normally and are slow to heal) are sadly affecting more and more people as we live longer and with different illnesses.

Data now suggests that over 2 million people are living with a chronic wound, causing enormous suffering and distress to them and their families and an incredible strain on the NHS, with an estimated annual cost being over £5 billion each year. This is a similar financial burden to that involved in the NHS management of obesity or cancer, yet whilst great emphasis is placed on these conditions there is little focus or understanding how we can avoid and manage wounds. 

A lack of coordinated care pathways, inconsistencies in treatment and insufficient specialist involvement all contribute to delayed healing and poorer outcomes for those suffering with chronic wounds.

As a result of these gaps in the NHS provision a recent debate was held at the House of Lords, ‘Improving the standard of wound care in the NHS’, to highlight the burden of wound management. Following on from this Rt Hon. Lord Hunt of Kings Heath set up a meeting on 22 May to discuss the further action that needed to be taken.

So it is fantastic that Dr Una Adderley has been appointed as National Wound Care Strategy Programme Director and the first National Wound Care Strategy meeting was held on the 21st September 2018. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of the education enabler work stream.

Wound care has not been given the priority it deserves and it urgently requires academics, clinicians and policy makers to come together to provide a uniform, holistic programme for wound prevention and treatment.

I am looking forward to developing strategies that focus on the prevention of wounds, particularly for those people living with diabetes. 1% of the NHS budget is now spent on the management of diabetes related foot complications, a shocking £1 billion, and yet what is desperately sad about these figures is that a great majority of these wounds could be prevented, reducing not only the enormous annual spend but more importantly reduce the suffering that people with diabetes face.

We need to improve foot care for people with diabetes, including access to foot protection teams and crucially, specialist podiatry care. Foot ulcers should be the most preventable complication of diabetes. Simple foot problems such as calluses or dry cracked skin can often lead to more serious complications. However these easily treatable problems can often be overlooked as there is little support available to guide people to undertake regular foot self-care, so they know how to care for their feet, know what to look for and what they should do and who to contact if they were worried about a potential complication.

recent study has highlighted how 80% of nurses surveyed did not feel confident in how, and why, they were performing the tests included in a foot screening examination. If the health care professionals (HCPs) themselves are not sufficiently trained and supported to undertake the basic foot screening tests how can they adequately guide or involve their patients in decision-making with regard to their foot care?

My major mission therefore is to raise awareness and support for people to undertake more preventative foot care practices and to improve the education and support that both people with diabetes and those involved in their care receive.

I am excited about collaborating with the experts involved in the National Wound Care Strategy to drive improvements in clinical practice and develop recommendations that are holistic and focused on prevention and assessment, with treatment pathways that promote best practice for the healing and care of wounds to improve outcomes for those unfortunate enough to develop such a problem.

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