Trust boards must act to stop deadly blood clots becoming “the next MRSA” in the eyes of patients and the media, the NHS Confederation is warning.

In a report to trusts, the confederation says clinical issues such as healthcare acquired infections have the capacity to cause “enormous damage” to trust reputations.

With public, political and media interest in venous thromboembolism increasing, checks for blood clot prevention could become part of future trust assessments, the report says.

The condition causes the deaths of around 40,000 hospital patients each year, as well as increasing treatment costs and hospital stay length.

The cost implications of risk assessing patients are likely to be minor when compared with the costs of treating post-surgical deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism patients, the confederation says.

Policy director Nigel Edwards said: “Managers, clinicians and patients have a real chance to build on the success of reducing infections. If we work together we can save lives and reduce NHS costs by improving the assessment of all patients and using cost effective preventative measures.”

Hospital boards could include venous thromboembolism measurements in trust quality dashboards and appoint clinical champions to promote the issue to colleagues, as well as appointing lead non-executive directors for the condition.

Baseline assessments can be used to establish how trusts are performing on assessing patients and boards can ask whether venous thromboembolism prevention is included in staff training.

Primary care trusts could include risk assessments and prophylaxis targets in contracts with providers.

Last May an HSJ investigation found more than half of trusts were not carrying out documented risk assessments for venous thromboembolism for all patients.

More recently, the all-party parliamentary thrombosis group found that the number of trusts carrying out assessments for all inpatients had increased to 70 per cent.

The report comes as a survey by thrombosis charity Lifeblood reveals the public is largely unaware of the risk of blood clots.