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Looking to the future

24 February 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 4

Perhaps, like me, you have found pleasure in things you hadn't realised were important to you during the pandemic. Perhaps reading all the articles on wound care that you meant to? Perhaps a Zoom or Messenger social group? Perhaps access to online learning, or a more balanced work-home life? I now have a sewing and craft room—what a pleasure! It is peaceful and I am largely uninterrupted.

The year 2022 is going to be different, well I certainly hope so. It is 2 years since the first patient was admitted to hospital in the UK with COVID-19 and, finally, there is consensus that, in the UK, we are slowly moving forward from the pandemic.

So, a time for reflection, considering the future and even celebrations.

Such a lot has changed in 2 years. There has been loss of life for many and, for others, a feeling that they have lost the life they used to live. Naturally, we mourn the losses and the changes, so many people and things we have missed. As with all change, taking time to reflect is important. Health and social care is so important and it has made politicians, professionals and the public reflect on what it is and what the future will be like.

Despite significant debate about the Health and Social Care Levy, the National Insurance rise will go ahead, focusing on funding health and social care in England. The tax is expected to raise £12 billion annually and an additional £2.2 billion for services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Reuben and Edgington, 2022). Easing pressure on the NHS is the first priority, with a proportion going to the social care system.

If you relate this national agenda to tissue viability and consider that the cost of wound care rose by an estimated 71% between 2012-2013 and 2017-2018 to £8.3 billion, with lower leg care costing £1.9 billion annually, you will appreciate the need for real and lasting change (Guest et al, 2020).

The variations in care both widely and more specifically in tissue viability care are a cause for concern. We can all be affected by the NHS waiting lists and the lack of access to social care and I am in no doubt that these pressures can have a significant impact on tissue viability and health, and further resource is needed. Accountability for spending is important. We all hope it is spent judiciously, wisely and with demonstrable outcomes.

The need for the National Wound Care Strategy Programme is clear in an ageing population—with care variances, poor wound healing rates and high recurrence rates, there is a significant challenge. The latest Commission for Quality and Improvement (CQUIN) for 2022-2023 has been published, with core clinical priority areas for tissue viability in the community, including CCG14: ‘Assessment, diagnosis and treatment of lower leg wounds’, CCG15: ‘Assessment and documentation of pressure ulcer risk’ and PSS1: ‘Achievement of revascularisation standards for lower limb ischaemia’ (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 2022). It poses both opportunities and challenges. This will affect all those providing wound or tissue viability care and I urge you to engage in the process and look at this latest CQUIN document.

Future planning is important and there is a need to address the issue of qualified and competent staff both nationally and internationally. Government and regulators must work with key global partners to build a sustainable model that meets the recruitment challenge. This will contribute to easing the burden on the NHS and protect our patients and communities.

Finally, celebrations: the BJN Awards 2022, which recognise and celebrate excellence in nursing, will take place on 25 March. I know what a difference nursing can really make and the Wound Care Alliance is very pleased to support the 2022 Wound Care Nurse of the Year award. Congratulations to all the finalists. We will be delighted to be back celebrating in person this year.