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Wound care: often overlooked but silently draining resources

An estimated 2.2 million people in the UK are affected by chronic wounds. Despite the availability of various treatments, many struggle to access the right treatment at the right time, with damaging consequences for patients and the wider healthcare system.

By Bhawna Kanwal

Following the opening webinar of the 2024 Wound Care Policy Series, Public Policy Projects (PPP) organised a second webinar entitled Going Further for Wound Healing on 25th March 2024, convening a broad range of stakeholders, industry leaders and healthcare professionals to discuss challenges in wound care.

The webinar was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Stephen Dorrell, Chair of PPP, overseeing a panel consisting of: Alison Hopkins, Chief Executive at Accelerate CIC, Andrea Keady, Market Access & Reimbursement Manager at Solventum, Steven Jeffery, Medical Director at Pioneer Wound Clinics and Victoria Townshend, Population Health Management at NHS Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board.

An estimated 2.2 million people in the UK are affected by chronic wounds. Despite the availability of various wound care treatments, many individuals struggle to access the right treatment at the right time, leading to long-term suffering, reduced quality of life, and increased burden on the healthcare system. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the underlying factors and root causes behind unmet needs in wound care.

During the webinar, the expert panel discussed challenges and obstacles faced by both wound care healthcare professionals and patients, as well as the economic burden that mismanagement of wound care places on the healthcare system and wider society. Panellists put forward approaches to foster collaboration and break down silos through better commissioning, collaboration, data-driven decision-making.

Economic implications and efficient use of resources

Stephen Dorrell began the discussion by underscoring the significance of wound care within the broader health and care system and the importance of optimising wound care services to achieve better patient outcomes and reduce costs. He emphasised the need to bridge expertise from both the public and private sectors to address the prevailing challenges effectively. Additionally, Dorrell pointed out that the current approach to wound care often involves simply covering them up rather than addressing the underlying issues, and called for a shift towards comprehensive, holistic care.

Naseer Ahmad, Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Manchester University Foundation Trust, emphasised that a crucial aspect lies in adopting a comprehensive approach that prioritises prevention and exploring ways to maximise current resources effectively.

Challenges in wound care management and the role of industry

Andrea Keady discussed the pivotal role of PPP in facilitating communication by bringing together various stakeholders and breaking down silos within wound care. She highlighted the challenges in wound care, where stakeholders often operate in isolation, and emphasised the importance of independent third parties to facilitate conversations and bring key stakeholders to the table, enabling them to understand and address problems.

“I think what is very prominent within wound care is that everyone is in their own little box.”

Andrea Keady, Market Access & Reimbursement Manager, Solventum

Keady also reflected on the need for collaboration between clinicians, patients, industry, and policymakers to address challenges in wound care and improve patient outcomes. She discussed the role of industry in supporting clinicians and expressed concerns about industry’s focus on cost reduction over patient outcomes, urging a shift towards prioritising patient outcomes. Keady underscored the importance of a multidisciplinary approach and called for support from policymakers to drive momentum for change.

The need for collaboration, diverse perspectives and action

Pointing to the work being undertaken in North East London, Alison Hopkins acknowledged current collaboration in wound care projects and highlighted the value of involving a broad range of clinicians and system leaders to move beyond “echo chamber chat.”

Hopkins highlighted the challenges faced in delivering quality care, particularly concerning delays in providing care for long-term conditions. She stressed the importance of diverse perspectives, particularly among clinicians and system leaders, to move beyond conventional thinking and explore innovative solutions through moving beyond discussions to actionable steps. She emphasised the need for actionable steps, such as identifying decision-making vehicles and obtaining the necessary data to address these challenges effectively.

Additionally, Hopkins shared insights from a survey conducted in North East London regarding wound care services, underlining the importance of evidence-based care and addressing disparities in service delivery. By identifying actionable steps and advocating for transparency and evidence-based care, stakeholders can drive meaningful change in service delivery.

Similarly, Ines Pereira (Nurse Consultant in Tissue Viability, NHS Grampian), a participant, highlighted that collaboration plays a crucial role. Given that nurse specialists cannot assess all patients alone, having a broader range of healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable in patient assessment and treatment would result in improved and timely care for patients.

Challenges around data collection

Steven Jeffery discussed the intricacies of data collection and analysis, highlighting their pivotal roles in informing best practice and driving improvements. While acknowledging the challenges, including the lack of incentives for data collection, Jeffery stressed the importance of investing in software and resources to streamline data collection and analysis. He emphasised the need for a shift in mindset towards prioritising value over cost, and the need for incentives to encourage medical professionals, particularly nurses, to engage in research and data analysis projects.

“Software will help us deliver better patient care, but also because it will save us money in the long term. Better patient care, because we can quickly identify, those patients that are having problems and saving us money by reducing the number of nursing, episodes required.”

Steven Jeffery, Medical Director, Pioneer Wound Clinic

Samantha Holloway, a Reader at Cardiff University, asked whether wound care could learn from other healthcare specialties, such as oncology, that have more advanced data collection and analytics capabilities. In response, Stephen Jeffery referenced skin cancer and cleft lip and palate surgery. In these fields, data is collected at every aspect of treatment, and is robust due to collaboration across multiple disciplines, such as plastic surgery, speech therapy and nursing. Jeffery highlighted that wound care’s interdisciplinary nature creates challenges, since no one specialist can be seen as a ‘leader’ with overall responsibility for wound care services.

The need for enhanced clinical leadership

Stephen Dorrell further highlighted the importance of senior medical leadership and professionals engaging with integrated care boards (ICBs) to drive better patient outcomes and cost savings. Alison Hopkins expressed concern about the reliance on individual personalities rather than systemic structures in healthcare leadership, highlighting the fragility of leadership in the system and lack of system-based leadership in wound care.

“Unfortunately, getting more doctors into wound care will be difficult while it is still seen to be, nurse led, and would be easier if the speciality were to have, more, leadership from doctors.”

Steven Jeffery, Medical Director, Pioneer Wound Clinic

Using data to identify challenges and inform solutions

Victoria Townshend discussed the role of population health management (PHM) in understanding and improving population health outcomes. Townshend cited Lincolnshire ICSs’ comprehensive Joined Intelligence Dataset, which aggregates data from primary care, secondary care, community and mental health activity, adult social care, waiting list data, wider determinants of health, and other health inequality metrics for all 814,000 registered people with GPs in Lincolnshire.

Analysis of this dataset shows that multimorbidity onset occurs 20 years earlier in the most deprived populations in Lincolnshire compared to the least deprived, with diagnoses as early as the early 20s. Among the 57,000 people with diabetes in Lincolnshire, 63 per cent are obese, and 62 per cent have a diagnosis of hypertension, emphasising the need to address multiple health conditions comprehensively and holistically. She provided insights into data challenges and solutions, including efforts to integrate wound care data into joint intelligence datasets for informed decision-making. In advocating for a PHM approach to wound care, Townshend stressed the importance of collaboration between clinicians, patients, industry, and policymakers to improve wound care outcomes and reduce inequalities.

The panel collectively underscored the need for a paradigm shift in wound care, from a focus on cost to an emphasis on value for patients and systems. They emphasised the importance of collaboration, data-driven decision-making, and patient-centred care in driving improvements. By leveraging expertise, and prioritising patient outcomes, they described a future where wound care is not merely a task but a pathway to better health for all.

To find out more about PPP’s 2024 Wound Care Programme, please click here or email Ameneh Saatchi at

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