Wound Awareness Week looks at saving health dollars and patient’s suffering

WAWA new national study has shown that millions of health budget dollars and patient’s suffering could be spared through better access to compression therapy for leg ulcer patients.

The KPMG study unveiled yesterday at World Awareness Week showed that an economic cost savings of $166 million a year could be produced if all eligible patients with venous leg ulcers (VLU) were treated with compression bandages and stockings.

The high cost of compression items is currently preventing their widespread use, with most Australian patients being forced to pay for them personally.

Wound care professionals from the Australian Wound Management Association (AWMA) and their National President Dr. Bill McGuiness believe a government subsidy scheme is the best solution for the use of compression items.

“Compression bandages and stockings are an essential part of treatment for leg ulcers but they’re expensive and many patients can’t afford them, that’s why federal government subsidy for these items is absolutely vital”.

The AWMA has asked the Federal Government to consider the benefits highlighted in the KPMG report as part of this year’s budgetary planning process.

Dr. Bill McGuinness emphasised the financial benefits that compression therapy offers, as well as the benefits to patients and the public health system.

“These estimated savings [of $166 million] would flow from the faster healing times associated with compression therapy.

“Compression therapy is an essential component of VLU care, with most wounds healing within the benchmark time of 12 weeks, nearly twice as quickly as otherwise.

“This means less use of GPs, community care and hospitals, and a greatly reduced financial burden on the public health system”.

Dr McGuiness also stressed the importance of better thinking over health funding, highlighting that patients who are less well-off are suffering greatly from the health condition.

“Managing leg ulcers is an equity issue that needs addressing urgently. The less well-off are paying the price for a health condition that causes pain and discomfort, greatly restricts their mobility and creates distress and social isolation.

“We may not be in an environment for significant new health funding, but we have an urgent need for some smarter thinking on how precious health dollars are allocated and spent.”