Older patients may miss out on varicose vein treatments on NHS

These are turbulent times for the NHS and to add to junior doctor strikes and contract concerns, is a health rationing row between NHS chiefs and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

Six Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the Birmingham region are looking at plans to cut funding for a whole range of operations, from cataract surgery to varicose vein treatments.

The CCGs, which provide treatment for over two million patients in the Birmingham area, published a document in April entitled the ‘Policy for Procedures of Lower Clinical Value’. A host of procedures were listed that would now require GPs to give evidence of ‘exceptional clinical need’ before their use would be sanctioned. As well as varicose veins, other treatments to be hit include cosmetic surgery, treatment for back pain and groin hernia repairs.

The Royal College of Surgeons were asked to give their feedback on the report and hit back, saying that “some policies are presented as if they are supported by clinically-evidenced guidance but in fact contravene this guidance” and that this could prevent patients receiving the treatment they need.

The plan is to impose thresholds on particular procedures; for example, a weight restriction on those undergoing hip or knee surgery or only treating more advanced cases of varicose veins. As the RCS points out in their letter, though, lack of early intervention in varicose veins can result in an increased deterioration that will later require a surgical intervention.

However, these are not the first CCGs that have rationed varicose vein procedures and patients are increasingly have to opt for private treatment. At Cornwall Vein Clinic, we offer the full range of varicose vein treatments that NHS patients were previously able to access. Depending on the extent of the problem, there are a number of minimally invasive, but highly effective treatments. These include endothermal ablation, sclerotherapy and exciting new technological innovations such as ClariVein™ and cyanoacrylate glue occlusion. Surgery should be a last resort.

If you have further questions or to find out more about your treatment options, please call 01872 226 100 to arrange a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic.