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Community wound treatment cuts bed days

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District nurses in Merseyside have slashed hospital bed days for patients with complex wounds.

Latest data shows that inpatient treatment days at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust fell by 21 per cent for complex wounds – from 2,460 days in 2007 to 2,028 in 2008 – after the introduction of community-based wound care programme using vacuum assisted closure (VAC) therapy.

VAC therapy, which speeds up healing by creating a vacuum around the wound to help draw its edges together, was recommended in the Transforming Services for Acute Care Closer to Home report, published last year as part of the NHS next stage review.

The St Helen’s service is based around a care pathway linking the trust with its primary care trusts, meaning that specially trained district nurses can take over the management of treatment that would normally require hospital care.

Presenting findings on the programme at the Wounds UK annual conference in Harrogate this month, the trust’s lead tissue viability nurse Debbie Gleeson said: “Patients requiring VAC therapy were being hospitalised unnecessarily.

“This joined up approach has resulted in a reduction in spend on therapy, more patients treated faster and improved quality of life for discharged patients,” she said.

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