Pressure ulcers, suffered by more than 100 patients a day in NHS care, drain millions of pounds from NHS resources and block beds which could be used to reduce waiting lists.
Figures gathered under the Freedom of Information Act, by the not-for-profit campaign group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) show there were 4,668 serious pressure ulcer cases in 2012-13. Based on figures published by NHS England*, these most serious cases could be costing the tax-payer up to £186 million a year.
APIL president John Spencer, said: “This really is a case of spending to save. Finding the resources to help avoid these serious cases could ultimately cut the bill to the NHS and free up beds.
“But the potential cost savings are really just a bonus, and on ‘Stop Pressure Ulcer Day’ we need to consider the positive impact that could be made to reduce human suffering.”
Serious pressure ulcers damage the skin and deeper layers of tissue and are usually avoidable. They are often caused by the extended pressure put on the skin by sitting in a bed or a chair for long periods without moving. Without effective and prompt care, they can become very serious and badly damage the muscle or bone, which can take a long time to heal.
“The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, recently highlighted the cost of avoidable injuries in hospitals and said more resources should be invested in improving patient care rather than wasted on picking up the pieces when things go wrong,” said Mr Spencer. “He also said every hospital Trust should understand the impact of avoidable injuries not just on patients but on the Trust’s finances.
“APIL has produced a five-point plan which sets out a national strategy for the NHS and care homes. This would help to ensure that the correct treatment is provided as soon as possible to both stop the suffering of the resident and prevent an avoidable referral to hospital,” he said.“The Department of Health is aware of this plan and we urge the Government to implement it.”
Notes to editors:
* The cost to the NHS of treating the most severe pressure ulcers and related conditions ranges from £11,000 to £40,000 per person. Source: Best Practice – Pressure ulcers, A guide to eliminating all avoidable grade 2, 3, and 4 pressure ulcers. NHS England 2013 (http://nhs.stopthepressure.co.uk/docs/Pressure_ulcer_care_best_practice.pdf)
- Five point plan can be seen here.
- Comparison map of pressure ulcers in different hospital Trusts across Britain can be found here.
- APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
- For more information contact APIL's press and communications officers Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, m: 07808 768623, e: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tim Carter t: 0115 943 5409, e: email@example.com.
- Visit the association's website at www.apil.org.uk.
- •Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.