The Medical Technology Blog

As the NHS cuts start to bite, could a treatment for varicose veins provide one of the answers?

Maybe not! But Medical Industry Week this week highlighted the rather grand suggestion that a non-surgical treatment for varicose veins could save the UK’s National Health Service over £17 million annually in healthcare costs, and help 7,000 patients avoid further treatment due to unsuccessful alternative treatments. It’s not going to solve all our problems, but if it’s true then it’s a good start!

All medical device companies like to big up their respective device and technologies from time to time, particularly when one considers that regulatory authorities from across the country are tightening the budgets.  So it remains to be seen whether VNUS’ claims are just marketing puff, but it’s interesting to see how companies are increasingly using costing as a sale push, in addition to all the stated benefits of improving healthcare.

Developed by US-based VNUS Medical Technologies, the VNUS Closure Procedure involves a hospital stay of a couple of hours, treatment under local, rather than general anaesthetic, and claims a much faster recovery time with most patients able to walk out of the treatment room unaided. The procedure is also much less resource-intensive than surgery to the NHS, particularly compared to conventional varicose vein stripping, which takes up a great deal of operating theatre time.

For the same costs, the company said this week that a further 25,000 patients could be treated earlier and avoid pain, or discomfort. Further savings are on offer as the procedure can be carried-out in a treatment room so it has the potential to free-up theatre-time, enabling the NHS to treat other serious conditions more quickly and to reduce those all-important waiting-times.

On its own, the VNUS procedure may not represent a significant dent in the £20 billion of spending cuts that the NHS is faced with securing over the next four years, but getting on top of some of these, arguably less glamorous treatments could collectively make a positive impact on meeting this ambitious target. Medical Industry Week argues that it is time to take a closer look at these sort of treatments in a bid to meet a target that even the NHS Confederation says is unlikely to be achieved with the timescale.

This article was provided by Lawrence Miller, editor of Medical Industry Week, and the medical newsletters teamleader.



Espicom Business Intelligence

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