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Wound healing research centre opens in Wales

Innovation Centre to tackle problem that costs 5% of UK health budget

Louise Prime

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Wales has become home to a leading centre for research into wounds, which account for 5% of the UK’s entire health budget – and are estimated to cost £42bn a year across the world. Wound healing research in Wales is already internationally renowned, and the new centre will lead further work aimed at improving patients’ quality of life as well as reducing NHS costs through reducing the need for admissions.

Chronic wounds, which are often long-term, painful and debilitating, can be particularly problematic in the elderly, and can drastically reduce sufferers’ quality of life – even leading in some cases to amputation. The Welsh Wound Innovation Centre, which is based at Llantrisant near the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, will head cutting-edge clinical and scientific research into wounds and wound healing, and develop ‘pioneering’ wound treatments and products.

The centre’s director Professor Keith Harding, head of Cardiff University School of Medicine’s Wound Healing Research Unit, said the centre was “a real opportunity for Wales to become recognised as a world-leading nation in wound healing” and would bring enormous benefits for patients – as well as cutting wound-related costs for the NHS.

He said: “Treating wounds, whether chronic, acute or traumatic is a startlingly expensive problem for our health services – not to mention the emotional costs it inflicts on patients and their families. Having up until now received little attention from policy makers or research funders it has become a silent epidemic.

“Our new centre will employ new methods to improve how wounds are prevented and treated, to enhance the quality of life of patients through better diagnosis and treatment. This will result in fewer hospital admissions and shorter hospital stays, reducing overall health costs for the NHS in Wales.”

The centre results from a partnership between the Welsh Government and NHS Wales, which have jointly contributed £2.5m, and leading universities in Wales; but it is also expected to attract commercial investment from wound management companies. Wales’ health minister Professor Mark Drakeford said he was ‘delighted’ to be opening the centre yesterday. He said: “This exciting new research centre … will be a Welsh centre of excellence in wound prevention and treatment. Its focus will be on developing better treatments for patients which will improve their quality of life. It will also attract investment and help create jobs in the medical technology sector.

“Our population is getting older and the time and cost associated with treating and managing wounds is set to increase. Only by looking at new ways of treating wounds can we manage this trend and improve people’s quality of life. This centre builds on a foundation of expertise in Wales, which has an international reputation for wound healing.”

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