This week is Wound Awareness Week. Nearly half a million Australians suffer from chronic wounds each year, with most of those caused by pressure injuries. People with chronic diseases such as diabetes and those over 65+years are most at risk.
Chronic wounds present a significant health and economic burden nationally that is often underestimated due to the limited data available. Our region also has one of the highest rates of obesity and overweight nationally at 70%, and a diabetes rate of 11%. Evidence suggests that up to 3% of the population over 60 years are affected by leg ulcers which equates to 2,184 people in our region.
Research suggests that if patients receive evidenced based wound care 80% of leg ulcers will heal within 24 weeks. Currently, 70% of patients do not receive the wound care they need and as a consequence, suffer recurring leg ulcers for up to 15 years or more. This can seriously impact a patient’s quality of life.
We are one of four PHNs nationally who received a Federal Government grant to launch a Wound Management Collaborative pilot to improve wound care in our region through increasing capacity in general practice to manage wounds. The pilot will initially focus on patients with venous leg ulcers in Eastern Penrith and aims to accelerate the rate of wound healing. This will reduce the risks of infection and complications, improve the health and quality of life outcomes for patients and reduce the demand on Community Health Wound Clinics.
We will be working closely with Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, the Improvement Foundation and Wounds Australia who will all contribute their shared knowledge and expertise to the co-design and delivery of this pilot. We look forward to sharing more about this initiative in the coming weeks.
In the meantime - if you or someone you know has a wound that is slow to heal or resistant treatment, be #WoundAware and make sure you see your GP.