Supplier: CareWell Health
20 January, 2009
The toll from bed ulcers in UK is close to 5,000 in five years and has cost £2bn to treat victims. As a result, bed sores have been revealed as the NHS's hidden killer.
Now a campaign has begun to press Health Secretary Alan Johnson to act.
Lib Dem MP Paul Burstow obtained figures showing untreated pressure ulcers were a factor in the deaths of 4,708 patients.
By comparison MRSA, which has had a much higher profile, killed 6,200.
Ex-health spokesman Burstow, who was approached by victims' families, said: "These painful and grotesque sores can cause premature death. It is vital there is a national prevention programme."
Sores develop when the blood supply is cut off and strike those who are immobile or cannot feel pain such as the old and paralysed.
They destroy tissue, allowing infection to spread, but can be prevented by checking and turning patients.
Superman actor Christopher Reeve died from a pressure sore at 52 in 2004, nine years after breaking his neck horse-riding.
Hospitals do not have to report sores, so patients are NOT checked frequently enough and there is NO way of knowing where they are most at risk.
There are estimated to be 800,000 cases a year costing the NHS £2billion.
Now the campaign group Your Turn wants records to become mandatory to name the worst hospitals.
David Stonehouse, of Guisborough, North Yorks, complained to PM Gordon Brown after his father was killed by a sore.