Measuring health outcomes is of paramount importance for the NHS, playing a pivotal role in enhancing the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of healthcare delivery. The NHS faces the dual challenge of providing equitable access to healthcare services while ensuring that the care delivered leads to positive health outcomes for individuals and the wider population1.

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Within an array of specialities and departments, patients who suffer with a wound often go unnoticed. Wounds are present disproportionately in patients with comorbidities and those who are 65 years and over2. The suffering and reduced quality of life for these patients can be devastating. A national data set of 11,524 wounds gives a flavour of the extent of the problem3. Of the wound data collected3:

  • 2,133 (18.9 per cent) were more than a year in duration.
  • 2,773 (24.6 per cent) were between three months and a year in duration.
  • 3,084 (27.4 per cent) wounds were considered static.
  • 873 (7.7 per cent) wounds were deteriorating.
  • 1,731(15.9 per cent) had one hospital admission; 1,000 (9.1 per cent) had two or more hospital admissions due to the wound.

Clearly, this area of healthcare demands immediate attention4 as the wound population is one that sees an approximate annual spend of £8.3bn with prevalence increasing by 71 per cent over a five-year period2.

Raising the profile of this issue requires a strategic, multifaceted approach utilising evidence-based methodology, alongside investment that is proportionate to the scale of the problem.

Continuous improvement initiatives that support service redesign are fundamental to mitigate the increasing problem that the UK is now facing in terms of wound care.


The COMPASS Programme is a sustainable, value-based change management process developed by Smith+Nephew which aims to support healthcare partners improve their wound care service to heal more wounds and achieve predictable and sustainable spend and outcomes.

To read the full report and find out more about The COMPASS Programme, click here.


1. NHS Confederation. Transforming lives, improving health outcomes: tackling the true cost of variation in uptake of innovative medicines. 2023.

2. Guest J. Fuller GW. and Vowden P. Cohort study evaluating the burden of wounds to the UK’s National Health Service in 2017/2018: update from 2012/2013. BMJ Open 2020;10.

3. Smith and Nephew. Master data set on file. 2023.

4. Harding KJ. Chronic wounds: a clinical problem requiring ownership and coordination. British Journal of Dermatology (2022) 187, pp 133–134.