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NHS leading the world in prevention of blood clots

31st March 2011

Health Minister praises transparent system pioneered by the NHS in England

The NHS is leading the way with its system of monitoring patients’ risk of forming blood clots while in hospital and ensuring appropriate prevention measures, Health Minister Lord Howe will say today.

Speaking at a meeting hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Thrombosis Group, the Clinical Leadership Summit on blood clots (venous thromboembolism), the minister will speak out about the need to prevent needless  death and disability for patients in the NHS.

Every year, an estimated 25,000 people in England die from these clots in hospital. The blood clots form in the veins deep in the leg, usually in the calf  and the majority of deaths in hospital are caused by part of the clot ‘breaking off’, travelling around the body and eventually lodging in the lungs, where it can cause a pulmonary embolism. The condition is largely preventable – requiring a simple risk assessment to be carried out by NHS staff followed by appropriate prevention in line with NICE guidance.

Speaking at the Summit, Lord Howe will say

“It is within our gift to do something about these clots, to reduce the suffering of thousands of people and to save a great many lives. The NHS has made a tremendous start in improving this, and those making the biggest difference are those on the front-line – the junior doctors, nurses, pharmacists and GPs - who can work together to prevent needless suffering of patients.

“Their progress is a reflection of what we want to achieve across the NHS – clinical leadership and transparency.

“The need to do better was first recognised by the previous Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, and NHS leaders some years ago, and since then we have pioneered a system where hospitals report how many patients have been risk assessed and locally decide whether the appropriate prevention measures are in place. The results are collated and published on a quarterly, soon to be monthly, basis – this level of transparency on how a service deals with the risk of clots is unparalleled across the globe.

“The aim of the system is to see that every patient admitted to hospital has had a risk assessment and appropriate prevention. While the NHS still has some work to do to achieve this, the initial results are impressive – the numbers of hospitals achieving the target of 90 per cent of patients assessed virtually trebled between July and December, from 18 to 53. The NHS in England is the only health system in the world to implement such a comprehensive system at a national level.”

Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director, who has led the development of the new system, said:

“All of us working in the NHS have a moral, professional and social responsibility to address a longstanding issue of this magnitude which puts patients at unnecessary risk of avoidable death, long-term disability and chronic ill health. It is clearly the right thing to do. That is why all professions, clinical and managerial, agreed to make this the number one clinical priority for the NHS last year and why we have made such remarkable progress in such a short period of time.”   

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Thrombosis Group, Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“The scale and cost of avoidable hospital acquired VTE – financially and in terms of long-term disability and lives lost – is staggering.

“The APPTG is delighted to be hosting this summit. The APPTG will continue to work with NHS decision makers and clinicians to ensure effective use of the best practice and policy now available to the NHS. We hope that any opportunities presented by the new NHS structure will be used to deliver a reduction in the incidence of VTE, and a legacy of quality VTE prevention in patient care that we can be proud of.”


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Article Information

Title: NHS leading the world in prevention of blood clots
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 18060
Date Added: 31st Mar 2011

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