Huffington Post: Results for Patient’s Varicose Veins & Leg Ulcers
- Posted on: Jul 29 2013
This article first appeared in The Huffington Post UK on 7/23/13.
Varicose veins and “hidden varicose veins” (medically called chronic venous incompetence) affect millions of people in the United Kingdom. In fact, 15 to 20% of the adult population suffers with visible varicose veins and around the same number have hidden varicose veins.
Research also suggests that even if you could magically cure everybody suffering with the condition today, there are still between 1.5% and 4.5% of the population developing new varicose veins each year, having had normal veins in the legs the year before.
So how does the National Health Service and private health insurance companies cope with this huge number of patients needing treatment?
Simply, they try to avoid it.
For many years people have erroneously been told that varicose veins are “only cosmetic” and do not bear any serious health implications. This makes many people suffering from venous disease too embarrassed to ask for help and for those that do, they are refused funded treatment to solve their problem.
Patients are often instructed to wear support stockings or compression stockings for 3 to 6 months to see if this “cures the problem” before a referral or funding is even considered.
Thank goodness for the new guidelines released today by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) about varicose veins.
The guidelines, which have been written with reference to published research, make perfect sense to those of us active in the venous world. Unfortunately, they do blow a hole in the way patients have previously been treated both by the NHS and private medical insurance companies.
This is excellent news for patients with varicose veins and problems associated with “hidden varicose veins”. All patients should now be referred to a proper unit that specialises in endovenous surgery and have experts in ultrasound scanning, as well as dedicated doctors who are able to perform the procedures. The new guidelines mean that there should be no delay in getting proper treatment by having to wear support stockings or compression stockings for a period of time before such a referral.
The only fly in the ointment of course is how the NHS or private medical insurers are going to comply with the NICE guidelines. The huge number of patients needing referral for treatment added to those who have been told they do not need treatment, or who have been instructed to wear support stockings before they can apply for their treatment to be funded, will all now be able to rightfully seek endovenous surgical treatments.
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