Wound care costs could almost double over the course of eight years if ‘urgent action’ is not taken, according to a leading health economist.
Professor Julian Guest wrote a report for the Journal of Wound Care (JWC) projecting the costs for an average clinical commissioning group (CCG) in England or health board in Wales and Scotland to treat wounds could go up to £50 million by 2019/20 from £26.7 million in 2012/13.
He warned this trend was likely if measures are not taken to improve wound healing by at least 1% and improve diagnosis, managing wounds and associated comorbidities.
Using real-world evidence based on a sample of 2000 patients from the The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database, Professor Guest reported that in 2012/2013, an average CCG/health board with a catchment of 250,000 adults managed an estimated 11,200 wounds per year, of which 48% were chronic. Estimated growth predicts that by 2019/2020, an average CCG/health board will treat 23,200 wounds per year.
The study stated strategies are urgently required to improve the accuracy of diagnosis and healing rates. Professor Guest urged greater involvement of senior staff in creating an ‘escalation of care ladder’ for patients with wounds.
He said: ‘Wound care is a forgotten cost driver for the NHS. Unless healing rates can be improved the burden to the NHS has the potential to spiral upwards.
‘Our studies show that there needs to be an improvement in differential diagnosis, holistic management of patients, close monitoring of outcomes and appropriate onward referral if the cost burden is to be managed.’
Writing in the same edition of JWC, Professor Richard White pointed out the relationship between poor clinical outcomes and increased costs. He said an unhealed wound is more expensive to manage in ‘purely financial terms’.