Venous thromboembolism

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is an international patient safety issue and a clinical priority for the NHS in England.

VTE is a collective term for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot that forms in the veins of the leg; and pulmonary embolism (PE) – a blood clot in the lungs. It affects approximately 1 in every 1000 of the UK population and is a significant cause of mortality, long term disability and chronic ill-health problems.

Around half of all cases of VTE are associated with hospitalisation, with many events occurring up to 90 days after admission.

Whilst global estimates of the true burden of disease vary, it is clear that  the economic burden of VTE is considerable – with the total cost to the UK of managing VTE estimated at £640 million (ref: Health Select Committee report, 2005).

The National VTE Prevention Programme

The overarching objective of the NHS England National VTE Prevention Programme is to reduce avoidable harm and death from hospital-associated thrombosis by ensuring that VTE prevention is embedded in NHS care.

Recognised as the most comprehensive national initiative of its kind in the world, the programme has brought about whole system change to ensure that patients admitted to hospital are assessed for their risk of developing VTE so that appropriate preventative treatment can be given to improve health outcomes. Since June 2010 we have seen the rate of patients receiving a VTE assessment go from just 45 percent to over 96 percent.

Read more about VTE risk assessment statistics.

Raising awareness and the importance of ongoing education

Preventing avoidable harm from VTE is fundamental in improving the safety and quality of care provided to patients. The National VTE Prevention Programme continues to develop a variety of resources to ensure that providers, commissioners and patients are aware of the risks of VTE and the actions that can be taken to improve its prevention.

Goalkeeper Paul Robinson signs up to VTE prevention

After experiencing a potentially fatal blood clot on his lung following surgery last year, former England goalkeeper, Paul Robinson is helping NHS England raise awareness of VTE through a new NHS Choices video developed in partnership with the National VTE Prevention Programme.

You can watch the Paul Robinson VTE prevention video above or on the NHS Choices website.