In March 2013, community services in Hambleton and Richmondshire in the UK were awarded £14,000 (around €17,000) by the Urgo Foundation to conduct a robust audit of chronic oedema, as well as a survey of their team’s knowledge of the condition. The hope amongst everyone is that the study will lead to an improvement in the prevention and treatment of the condition.
Chronic oedema is an umbrella term for swelling that has been present in the arms or legs for more than three months. The causes of this condition remain complex and a lack of understanding by the medical profession means it is often diagnosed late. If the oedema can be detected early enough, it can be stopped in its tracks.
Chronic oedema is mostly seen in the elderly. The practices in Hambledon and Richmondshire are responsible for around 120,000 people, with more than 20% of the population aged 65 and over. By 2030, this age group is expected to see a 20% increase, which may well lead to a dramatic rise in the number of patients with the condition, if treatment is not improved.
In the long term, the audit should improve patients’ lives and make things easier for nurses too, since chronic oedema makes up an increasing proportion of their workload. In addition, improved management of the condition should generate savings for the NHS (the UK’s National Health Service).