‘Stand Up for Legs’ is the call as campaign for leg ulcer awareness finds its feet

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Leanne Atkin Lecturer and Vascular Nurse Consultant

LOWER leg and feet disorders are often overlooked by patients, carers and clinicians leading to thousands of people needlessly suffering simply because there is a lack of awareness.  Now, a lecturer from the University of Huddersfield, together with a team of experts, has been awarded funding from the Urgo Foundation to launch a national campaign to ensure these ailments no longer go unnoticed.

Leanne Atkin is Lecturer in the University’s Institute of Skin Integrity and Infection Prevention (ISIaIP).  For the last six months she has been a part of a steering group – consisting of eight healthcare organisations – formulating their manifesto for a campaign entitled Your Legs Matter, urging patients and clinicians to “Stand Up for Legs”.

“Leg ulcers are four times more prevalent than pressure ulcers,” said Ms Atkin.  “Yet there is a lack of awareness among the public of lower leg and foot conditions and the importance of seeking out the right advice and treatment.

“Most leg and foot problems can be improved and indeed prevented given the right care, especially if addressed early,” she said.

The campaign will actively promote high quality lower leg and foot care via a national campaign which will focus on public awareness and raising the political profile of lower limb issues.

A public facing website is also in development and this will inform patients, carers, clinicians, educational institutes, commissioners and politicians about the importance of seeking appropriate help for these conditions early on.  The campaign will officially launch at the Tissue Viability Society annual conference in April.

Leanne Atkins’s research has also led to the creation of a leg algorithm published by Wounds UK in their Best Practice Statement for Holistic Management of Venous Leg Ulceration.  By following the algorithm, anyone can successfully take care of a leg ulcer which in turn will positively impact the NHS.

“If used correctly the number of nurses visits can reduce by half.  It is cheaper and leads to a better outcome for the patient as they heal quicker and there is less nursing involvement.”

As well as conducting her own valuable research into leg ulcers within the University’s Skin Institute alongside Professor Karen Ousey, Leanne Atkins still works in practice as a Vascular Nurse Consultant for the Mid-Yorks NHS Trust.

Her methods and hard work were recently recognised by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as she was recruited to be one of their clinical experts.  In this role, she will review NICE’s peripheral artery disease guidelines and ensure their advice for experts looking after the disease continues to be the very best in clinical excellence.

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