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Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services

First published:
3 July 2023
Last updated:

Today, I am publishing a new Quality Statement on Vascular Disease to guide the consistent planning of NHS services through the setting out of national expectations and clinical pathways of care.

This is the twelfth quality statement to be published and it sets out what high quality vascular services should look like and reflects a consensus of expert and stakeholder opinion about vital areas of focus in the years ahead.

Vascular diseases affect the network of the blood vessels known as the vascular or circulatory system. Vascular disease is common in the community and both incidence and severity increase with age. For example, peripheral arterial disease affects about 20 percent of the population over the age of 60 in the UK and carries both the risk of lower limb loss and the increased risk of death from heart attack and stroke. Aneurysms of the abdominal aorta affect 1-3 per cent of males aged 65 and over which may cause death from rupture if untreated. As many as 50 per cent of patients present urgently or as an emergency. Therefore, it is important that NHS services are planned to meet this need by helping people in the early stage of diagnosis feel supported and involved in the management of their disease, reducing the risk of disease progression, and helping to avoid unnecessary healthcare demand.

Over the last 20 years vascular services have changed significantly, and the need for specialised and complex procedures has led to a concentration of resources and expertise at fewer locations. This has a number of benefits - well managed conditions are vital to delivering the best patient outcomes and delivering a sustainable NHS. However, there have also been significant service challenges in some parts of Wales, most notably at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board where concerted improvement work has been underway in response to a number of reviews.

The Quality Statement takes those reviews into account, setting out a vision covering prevention to supporting people who require treatment for vascular conditions. It aims to drive system-wide improvement through a reduction in unwarranted variation of care and improved outcomes across the pathway. The focus will be to encourage cross working and collaboration with other groups. The All-Wales Vascular Network has a key role to play in providing strong clinical leadership to support improvements in the quality and performance of these services.

We will work closely with the NHS to ensure they are implementing the expectations in the Quality Statement through local planning processes, using information and data such as the National Vascular Registry to measure improvements in outcomes.

The quality statement can be accessed at: Quality statement for vascular disease