Vein Care In The United Kingdom
Written by Dallas Vein Specialists on May 14, 2013
(Royal Society of Medicine Venous Forum, London 2013)
I recently attended the Venous Forum of the Royal Society of Medicine in London. This several day meeting included talks by eminent British vascular surgeons and guest speakers from Europe. Topics ranged through the spectrum of venous diseases and their treatments including traditional invasive surgery, newer minimal invasive treatments, sclerotherapy, phlebitis and clotting problems, and basic scientific research about vein problems.
I was struck that still 70% of varicose vein patients in the United Kingdom are treated with traditional surgical intervention, i. e. vein ligation and stripping procedures. Much was discussed about the minimally invasive procedures such as the laser or radiofrequency ablation treatments. There was a consensus that these minimally invasive procedures are better, and better in several ways such as less pain and disability, fewer complications, and rapidity of return to usual activities. All of these points were nicely outlined by Mr. David Carridice of Hull York Medical School, who gave the prestigious Hunterian Lecture. Mr. Carridice has published widely about the favorable results of the minimally invasive procedures as compared to the traditional surgical treatment.
So why are not all vein patients in the U.K. not treated with the modern minimally invasive techniques? The answer ironically involves the National Health Service (NHS), which of course is entirely funded by the national government. The NHS wants not to pay for the laser and radiofrequency devices used in the minimally invasive treatments. By this refusal to pay the NHS encourages surgeons to perform the traditional surgical procedures (ligation and stripping) that require more time and care and lead to more complications and patient inconveniences, things that seem to matter little to the socialized government system.
Fortunately in America the private sector providers of medical funding and medicare realize the cost savings of the minimally invasive treatments of varicose veins as compared to the traditional surgical procedures that require more expensive in hospital or outpatient surgical facilities.