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NICE recommends new wound dressing for diabetes patients

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A unique wound dressing for venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers which could help prevent 3,000 diabetes-related amputations has been recommended by the National Institute For Health and Care Excellence.

Following a comprehensive review, NICE’s medical technology guidance has recommended UrgoStart dressings, manufactured by Urgo Medical, as an option of care for people with non-infected diabetic foot ulcers or venous leg ulcers.

“NICE’s decision to support this is great news for nurses as well, as it frees up our time to spend with other patients in need”

Julie Mullings

The NICE committee behind the guidance concluded that using UrgoStart dressings would improve both the speed and rate of wound healing for patients with diabetic foot ulcers, when compared with standard care.

The committee also said it recognised that the treatment was associated with significant cost savings for the NHS, as well as improved quality of life for patients.

Available in a variety of formats and sizes, with a cost of around £4.28 per dressing, UrgoStart uses lipido-colloid technology which aims to create a moist, protective, wound healing environment.

The benefits are associated with cost savings of £342 per patient per year, according to NICE, primarily due to reduced costs as fewer dressings are needed, along with fewer nurse, GP and outpatient visits.

NICE estimates that around £70,000 people with diabetic foot ulcers, in England, would be eligible for the treatment. It added that if 25% of those used UrgoStart instead of a non-interactive dressing, the NHS could potentially save up to £5.4m each year.

In addition, NICE added that because wounds heal faster with UrgoStart, there could be fewer wound-related complications, such as amputations, needing further treatment and healthcare professional resources and costs.

Although the committee said it was “likely” to be a cost-saving alternative for patients, it also highlighted that the strength of those conclusions was less certain from the evidence available.

 “UrgoStart can significantly reduce the healing time of foot ulcers, and will have a significant impact on thousands of patients”

Graham Bowen

Julie Mullings, lead nurse tissue viability at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Patients really suffer both physically and psychologically when they develop an ulcer, significantly affecting their quality of life for many months and sometimes longer.”

“If we can reduce the healing time by using the right treatment at the right time this will achieve the best outcome for the patient,” she added.

Ms Mullings also said: “NICE’s decision to support this standardised evidence-based approach to reducing time to heal is great news for nurses as well, as it frees up our time to spend with other patients in need.”

The unique dressings contain a layer of open weave polyester mesh, impregnated with hydrocolloid polymers, within a petroleum jelly, explained NICE.

It said the innovative element of Urgo Start was that it contained a substance that inhibits the activity of enzymes within the wound- high levels of this are linked to slower wound healing, it noted.

Graham Bowen, clinical lead for podiatry at Solent NHS Trust, and chair of Foot in Diabetes UK, said it was “tremendous news”.

He said: “UrgoStart can significantly reduce the healing time of foot ulcers, and will have a significant impact on thousands of patients living with this condition.”

“As we know, over 90% of all diabetes related amputations are preceded by a single foot ulcer so speeding up the healing process could help prevent many unnecessary amputations,” he added.

Mr Bowen also said: “The NICE guidance shows that UrgoStart can have a major impact on clinical outcomes and reduces costs for the NHS which is good news for both patients and healthcare professionals.”

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