Legs Matter Week: the hidden harm crisis

Legs Matter Week: the hidden harm crisis

Legs Matter is a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating patients and healthcare professionals on the current medical issues in leg and foot care. Legs Matter provides an online hub filled with medical education tools designed to drive knowledge and understanding of leg-related healthcare issues from sickle cell and leg ulcers to oedema (swelling) and blood clots.

Every year, Legs Matter hosts an awareness week to promote discussions around growing leg and foot health issues as well as areas of concern. Through partnering with other healthcare organisations, Legs Matter is able to shine a light on innovations and developments helping to transform leg and foot care.

Stepping up for leg health

This year’s Legs Matter Week is hosted between the 12th and 16th June with a focus on the hidden harm crisis in foot and leg care. This includes conditions that are not being treated adequately, subsequently causing more harm than necessary to patients.

It is predicted that wound care, for instance, costs the NHS approximately £10 billion annually, with a large portion of these costs spent on unhealed wounds. Around £2 billion is spent on the treatment of venous leg ulcers (VLUs) – the most prevalent type of leg ulcer, making up more than 60 percent of all cases*. Early intervention and patient adherence are therefore crucial to reducing the physical and emotional burden on patients, as well as the financial burden on healthcare systems.

The 10-point plan

For these reasons, Legs Matter has devised a 10-point plan, calling on KOLs and decision makers within the NHS to rethink the way people with leg and foot conditions are treated to minimise the risk of harm and give them a better chance of recovery.

    1. Acknowledge it as harm – recognising the consequences of insufficient care and the harm this causes.
    2. Change the language – shifting from ‘managing’ conditions to ‘healing’ can drive improved patient outcomes.
    3. Give immediate and necessary care – implement the guidance in the National Wound Care Strategy to provide immediate care.
    4. Access to evidence-based practice – ensure every patient has access to a treatment plan and local pathway.
    5. Increase access to the right products at the right time – remove restrictions that prevent patients and clinicians accessing timely and correct treatment.
    6. Actively listen to patients – personalising care, encouraging an active role in patients’ treatment, and taking their views on their conditions seriously.
    7. Address systemic knowledge and skills gaps – identify the variation in care and health inequalities to enhance knowledge and skills.
    8. Don’t be afraid to escalate – escalation for a second opinion demonstrates good care.
    9. Actively challenge the system – do not let acceptance of non-healing, system delays or capacity issues prevent action towards eliminating patient harm.
    10. Change the system – introduce contracted leg and foot standardised pathways.

Demanding more, enforcing change

Driving change in the wider system requires evidence that indicates current care is not sufficient in delivering improved patient outcomes. In the case of wound care, it has been reported that between 12-52 percent of patients adhere to standard of care, highlighting the critical need of innovation to drive enhanced healing.

This week, we join Legs Matter in raising awareness of the hidden harm crisis. Click here to find out more.

*Published data on VLU incidence varies from 60% – 80%.

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