One in four patients in need of wound dressings have them changed by nurses at their local GP surgery, according to a new survey.
The research, conducted by Molnlycke, a provider of wound care solutions, have found that nurses carry out an average of 180 would dressing changes a year on each chronic wound patient.
‘The results in this survey unfortunately do not provide a surprise,’ said Alison Hopkins, registered nurse and chief executive of Accelerate Community Interest Company, who deliver specialist care for those living with chronic wounds and lymphoedema.
‘Most of the non-healing group are hidden and their situation is spread across many sites or services. The data on this group is often not collected locally and thus national data is sorely lacking. How wounds are labelled and managed has become a national cause for concern and thankfully is now why we have a drive towards a funded Wound Care Strategy by NHSE.’
‘Commissioners need support to see the solutions and easy wins if system change is supported. There are significant opportunities to provide change that can improve both lives and cost.’
Chronic wounds include diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers and venous leg ulcers which can take up to 8 months to heal – approximately 2.8 million people in the UK live with a chronic wound.
The study also found that the average patient lives with their chronic wound for over 8 months, and 11% of those go beyond the 1-year mark.
The research, which surveyed more than 200 people, also revealed that one in four patients have their dressings changed by a nurse at their local GP – 80% of whom require dressing changes twice a week.
Living with a chronic wound can seriously impact quality of life, as 30% of participants reported feeling ‘powerless’ and 23% felt depressed.
‘Community nurses, such as practice nurses and district nurses, are really under pressure when it comes to wound patients. Wound care forms a large part of the nursing caseload and it is becoming increasingly difficult for these nurses to give patients the time and care they need,’ said Una Adderley, a lecturer in community nursing at the University of Leeds.
‘In this study, patients report an average dressing time of 18 minutes, but this is rarely enough time to provide the care that is needed. When nurses have more time with each patient to give good quality assessment and appropriate care, we see better healing and improved patient quality of life.’