Chronic wounds include pressure, leg and foot ulcers. Some patients may have wounds that do not heal for years. In addition to wound pain, and pain when the dressing is changed, there is a high adverse effect on quality of life. A lack of mobility, sleep deprivation, and exudate and odour from the wound can lead to an inability to participate in normal activities and social isolation (Persoon et al. 2004, Posnett and Franks 2007).

Posnett and Franks (2007) estimated that there are approximately 200,000 people in the UK at any one time with a chronic wound.

Venous leg ulcers are estimated to affect around 1 in 500 people in the UK, becoming more common with age. An estimated 1 in 50 people over the age of 80 years has a venous leg ulcer (NHS Choices).

Approximately half a million people in the UK will develop at least 1 pressure ulcer in any given year. People with an underlying health condition and people aged over 70 years are particularly at risk of developing pressure ulcers (NHS Choices).

In addition to the effect on the patient from chronic wounds, there is a cost and resource issue for the NHS; ongoing treatment of chronic wounds is expensive. The total treatment cost for the NHS for chronic wounds, including nursing time and other treatments, was estimated by Posnett and Franks (2007) using 2005/6 prices, as £2.3–3.1 billion a year. The cost was calculated from a variety of sources for pressure, leg and foot ulcers.

Appropriate wound dressings are a single component of the wound healing process. Many chronic wounds are preventable, and many will heal within 24 weeks with appropriate diagnosis and treatment (Posnett and Franks 2007).