Blood clot prevention measures will prevent 25,000 UK hospital
deaths a year
17 December 2009
The UK Department of Health (DH) has made venous
thromboembolism (VTE) prevention mandatory for NHS trusts in the
Operating Framework for the NHS in 2010/11.
The decision was welcomed by the The All-Party Parliamentary Thrombosis
Group (APPTG) which has been campaigning for its inclusion as a key step
in reducing up to 25,000 annual avoidable deaths and saving the NHS over
£500m pounds a year.
The APPTG has been working alongside the Department of Health to
prioritise VTE prevention in recent years. It has frequently
demonstrated that mandating best practice is the most effective way to
increase the quality of patient care and achieve significant cost
savings for the NHS.
Venous Thromboembolism (VTE), includes the conditions deep vein
thrombosis — when a blood clot forms in a vein, usually in the leg — and
pulmonary embolism, which occurs when a blood clot that has formed in a
vein breaks off and lodges in the lung.
Deep vein thrombosis is more common in those who are ill and those
who are immobile. Patients in hospital are more vulnerable because they
meet both these criteria. Deep vein thrombosis may lead to pulmonary
embolism, which can be fatal.
The announcement follows the publication last week of the APPTG
annual survey of all acute hospital trusts in England. It found that
only 41% of trusts are able to demonstrate that all hospital inpatients
are being risk assessed and are receiving appropriate preventative
treatment as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer and NICE.
Crucially, the move to mandate VTE prevention was supported by over
three quarters of trusts — 77% thought this would be the most effective
way to drive compliance with VTE prevention policies at the ward level.
Today’s decision will apply to all strategic health authorities who will
be able to recoup money paid to hospitals for procedures, where it
transpires patients have not been risk assessed for VTE.
Professor Beverley Hunt, Medical Director, Lifeblood: The Thrombosis
Charity said: “Our campaign for reducing deaths from hospital-acquired
VTE has always recognised that mandating VTE prevention is critical to
ensuring all patients are risk-assessed and given appropriate
prophylaxis. We are pleased VTE has finally been given the priority it
deserves, and we can now begin to make a real impact in reducing
estimated 25,000 unnecessary deaths that occur from the condition each
Dr Richard Taylor MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary
Thrombosis Group, said: “We are delighted the Government has responded
to the growing momentum of the medical profession in its support for
mandating VTE prevention. The challenge will now be to ensure that
mandatory policies are audited by a meaningful indicator, so that
compliance with risk-assessment and thromboprophylaxis policies are
measured on a national scale.”
1. The APPTG survey is available at
2. NICE Clinical Guideline 46 on the prevention of VTE in surgical
patients is available from
3. The UK Department of Health Risk Assessment for Venous
Thromboembolism (VTE) is available at