Patients from across Europe travel to North Staffs for pioneering
Vein treatment in demand
by Dave Blackhurst
The Sentinel - Mon. 3nd oct. 2005
|SCORES of patients are flocking to North Staffordshire from across
Europe for revolutionary treatment on varicose veins.
A consultant at the Nuffield Hospital, in Clayton, has become
the first in Britain to perfect the technique which cures the
painful and common condition in just one hour by using laser treatment.
Radiologist Dr David West has already carried out the procedure
on 60 sufferers from as far afield as the Channel Islands, Spain
and Italy so avoiding the need for full-blown surgery involving
a general anaesthetic and weeks of recovery.
They have been treated at the Nuffield Hospital as the relief
is only available in the private sector, costing around £1,500.
But now the medic is trying to bring it into the NHS and offer
it to patients at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire,
where he has practised for years.
He claims that as the patients are on waiting lists already, it
will not cost cash-strapped local budgets any more to bring the
breakthrough to their aid.
The technique was developed in America and Dr West travelled to
the States to learn it three years ago.
Six other centres now use laser treatment to wipe out varicose
veins, which affect one in five adults.
As the ailment is not lifethreatening and often no more than disfiguring,
the NHS locally stopped funding surgery for many patients five
But the University Hospital has continued to treat more severe
cases where the legs ache, the skin becomes dry and itchy and
an ulcer can develop.
Dr West said: It is carried out in outpatients clinics, takes
about an hour and the patient can even return to work the following
Instead of the veins being stripped out using traditional surgical
methods, the laser technique destroys the faulty veins where they
lie and they simply shrivel away.
No anaesthetic is necessary, no cuts are made, no time off work
is needed and most social activities can be resumed straight away.
Other important benefits include a low rate of complications,
a high success rate and a much lower recurrence rate. It is an
amazing advance in the treatment of this common and understated
problem. Varicose veins cause pain and embarrassment to millions
of people in the UK but surgery is denied to many due to NHS funding
Grandmother-of-two Christine Cooke is back wearing skirts and
shorts for the first time in at least 15 years after benefiting
from Dr Wests laser treatment.
Christine, of Baldwins Gate, had her varicose veins treated through
traditional methods five times before going to see Dr West.
Christine, aged 57, said: I have just been on a cruise round
the Med and its been great to wear shorts and skirts again. Husband
Brian loves to see me in them. Even though I had the veins done
several times before, they never really went away. And under the
old method I would have to walk three miles a day for the first
10 days after the operation to get my circulation moving again.
This time I was in for about an hour and the bandages could be
taken off the next day. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr David West at work at the Nuffield Hospital in Clayton and,
inset, patient Christine Cooke, who has benefited from the pioneering
treatment. It is only available to private patients but Dr West
is now trying to bring it into the NHS Main picture: