Endothermal ablation: the varicose vein treatment you should be offered

The NHS is facing its worse financial crisis in a generation according to regulators. Estimates published towards the end of 2015 suggest that the NHS is heading towards an annual deficit of at least £2 billion . This is attributed to increased care requirements for an ageing population, restricted budgets and unexpected staffing costs. Whilst these are undeniable factors driving the current healthcare landscape there is still plenty to do to modernise the service at grass roots levels to improve the patient experience and eliminate unnecessary costs.

For some time, the casual prescription by GPs of antibiotics for viruses to mollify parents and screaming children has been a known issue. This placebo actually costs the NHS around £10m a year, despite it having no effect whatsoever on viruses. Worse that that it contributes to antibiotic resistance, threatening to make common infections untreatable.

A less well-covered topic in the media is the expenditure on varicose vein treatment. This is a common health complaint which affects up to 30 per cent of UK adults. For many people there are no symptoms but the condition can result in heaviness, aching and cramps. Over time this can develop into more serious problems such as leg ulcers which have a significant effect on the patient’s quality of life.

Traditionally, this condition has been treated with surgery and carried out under general anaesthetic. Whilst most patients can return home on the same day the procedure is invasive and can result in pain, bruising and bleeding. Recovery can take up to three weeks before returning to work and there is a small risk of nerve damage and or deep vein thrombosis.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), best known for ruling which new drugs doctors can prescribe on the NHS recommends that endothermal ablation should be offered as an initial treatment for varicose veins. Carried out under a local anaesthetic the procedure relies on high frequency radio waves or lasers to seal the affected blood vessels.

According to NICE, prescribing endothermal ablation as the preferred treatment would deliver a more successful and less invasive treatment for patients as well as making an annual saving of £4.5 million across the UK.

For more information on which treatment for varicose veins is most appropriate for your needs, please call 01872 226 100 to book a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic.

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