NHS Borders has drastically reduced the number of patients developing bedsores while in its hospitals.
Cases of the pressure ulcers, which can be life-threatening, fell by 70 per cent in Borders General Hospital and 75 per cent in community hospitals across the region in the last year.
The health board is putting the improved figures down to a Scottish Government-funded tissue viability programme to tackle the issue, which was introduced at the start of last year.
Elaine Peace, NHS Borders’ associate director of nursing for primary and community services, who leads of the scheme, said: “NHS Borders was one of the first health boards in Scotland to implement the tissue viability programme, and we are delighted with our excellent results.
“The commitment and hard work of staff in clinical areas to improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of pressure ulcers developing has been vital to us being able to achieve these results.”
As part of the initiative, staff were told how to assess the risk of a patient developing an ulcer and the nursing care required to prevent this happening.
Other moves that contributed to the bedsores fall include a review of pressure-relieving equipment in clinical areas. It led to a substantial reduction in the time taken for a patient to receive the right type of mattress.
Bedsores can be as serious as open wounds which can expose the underlying bone or muscle. It is estimated that one in 20 people admitted to a hospital in the UK will develop the ulcers, with elderly and disabled people particularly at risk.
An NHS Borders spokesperson said: “Pressure ulcers can develop quickly, particularly in elderly patients and those who are less mobile. Patients are encouraged to change position regularly in their bed or wheelchair, and to highlight any concerns about their skin to nursing staff so that it can be checked regularly to reduce the risk of a pressure ulcer developing.
“The risk is higher if the skin is wet or very dry and if the patient is not eating and drinking well.
“Pressure ulcers vary in size and severity, but cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for the patient and the healing process can be very lengthy. Most are preventable, and this is the key message of the work that has been ongoing over the past 18 months.
“The risk assessment guidelines used by nursing staff and regular monitoring of patients at higher risk are key to the reduction in pressure ulcer incidences, as demonstrated by the recent figures.”
Meanwhile, NHS Borders board has approved the region’s children and young people’s services plan for 2012 to 2015.
The paper details the way in which NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council, Lothian and Borders Police and the voluntary sector will work together to deliver services to children, young people and their families.
The plan, which involved an 11-week public consultation from December to February this year, prioritises building on the local delivery of integrated child and family-centred services, so that families can access these as close to their homes as safely possible.
Mandy Brotherstone, the NHS Borders’ head of children’s services, said: “Our NHS Borders Children and Young People’s Health Network will play a key part in taking forward the objectives of the plan.
“And we look forward to continuing the ongoing work with our partners.”