Leg clinics to share learning across Lincolnshire

29th January 2018

Clinics supporting people to better manage leg ulcers are being rolled out across Lincolnshire following a successful pilot in the south of the county.

The innovative work began in Bourne, Market Deeping and Stamford with nurses from Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) providing a dedicated leg ulcer service. This resulted in the trial of using compression hosiery instead of traditional bandages to treat venous leg ulcers.

Beverley Morris and Emily Scott Walker, the nurses behind the changes, soon realised the benefits extended far beyond a change in treatment technique and they found it came with better outcomes for patients, improved continuity of care and was more cost effective. Patients also told them it made self care easier and it was making a difference to their quality of life.

Beverley explained: "We started working solely in the leg ulcer clinic about three years ago with the view to standardise the care on offer and improve continuity for our patients. Our work has evolved significantly over this time and we found giving patients the ability to self manage in between clinic appointments was key. For many, their condition is chronic when they are referred to clinic but most patients have gone on to heal completely, while others have seen their quality of life significantly improve with this treatment."

One audit of patients at the Market Deeping clinic showed 82 per cent healed with self management and 98 per cent have healed with compression hosiery in the last three years.

Beverley and Emily have also successfully campaigned to have leg ulcers recognised as a specialist area of nursing at LCHS.

Emily added: "Hosiery has always been available but specialist ulcer care hosiery has only been available recent years. We understand that a few patients will unfortunately never heal and wanted to find a solution that improved quality of life by encouraging self management. There is more research available and there are now guidelines that promote hosiery as the first line of treatment, which is great news for all patients with lower limb disease."

Paul Hodgson, from Stamford, had been attending a weekly clinic in Bourne and has seen significant improvements in his quality of life.

"My problem started with a biopsy on a lump on my left leg which went wrong," he said. "I got an infection which for nearly three years was being treated as eczema. However, a change of consultant meant a change in diagnosis to Lichen Keratosis. I was then referred to the leg ulcer clinic where I saw Beverley Morris on a weekly basis for the next four or five months.

"Using the compression socks has resulted in my legs recovering substantially and wearing them all the time keeps my blood flowing better. My partner has been taught how I get the socks on and off at home and for me, attending the clinic has helped enormously for us both."

The new model of clinics will be rolled out in phases across Lincolnshire, expanding from Bourne, Market Deeping and Stamford to South Holland and Sleaford.