A private equity firm, Palatine (Manchester, UK), has announced that it has made a “significant investment” into a UK centre—Veincentre—that provides endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) for the management of varicose veins. The investment, according to Palatine, is the fourth to be made from the firm’s £100m “Impact Fund” that “targets companies with a social and/or environmental impact, alongside industry-standard returns”.
A press release reports that, in the UK, the NHS withdrew funding for varicose veins treatment after determining it was “non-essential”. Last year, the NHS released a consultation document on stopping or reducing the routine commissioning of 17 interventions for which “less invasive, safer treatments are available and just as effective”. One of these interventions was surgery for varicose veins, with the document noting that patients with varicose veins should only be referred for treatment when they meet specific criteria (such as having a venous leg ulcer). It states: “For patients whose veins are purely cosmetic and are not associated with any symptoms, do not refer for NHS treatment.”
According to the press release announcing the investment from Palatine, EVLA reduces recovery times associated with traditional forms of treatment (i.e. conventional surgery) and significantly reduces scarring. David West, the clinical director of Veincentre, says: “With the help of the Palatine team, our aim to bring this specialist, yet affordable treatment to as many people as possible seems more achievable than ever. The work we do has become increasingly important following falling NHS funding in the sector, and now with the help of this investment, we will be able to offer a necessary social service where access might otherwise be scarce.”
Veincentre now plans to continue to build on its recent nationwide expansion, opening new clinics in Glasgow and Leeds later this year, before carrying out a plan to open two new centres across Britain annually. Beth Houghton (head of the Impact Fund, Palatine) comments: “We are very excited to work with Veincentre; with the lack of NHS funding for what can for some people be a debilitating condition, it is important that people are able to access treatment at affordable prices, in convenient locations. With the planned roll-out of clinics to Scotland and Yorkshire, Veincentre will be able to offer treatment in almost every major region in the nation, and the management team has ambitions to offer full coverage of the UK. Veincentre is exactly the type of business we want to support, and we look forward to working with the management team in order to help accelerate growth and consolidate the company’s position as a leader in the industry.”
West told BIBA Briefings: “I am delighted that we have teamed up with Palatine who recognise the impact varicose veins and other problems with venous insufficiency have on people’s lives and the lack of comprehensive provision of modern treatment by the NHS. Most of our patients are bothered by both the cosmetic appearance and troublesome symptoms and many tell us that treatment has changed their lives. Although in an ideal world, all UK patients would be able to access NHS treatment it is difficult to justify treating all cases at the inevitable expense of patients with other more pressing health issues. This investment ensures that we can achieve our short-term expansion plans in the UK and put us on a firm footing for international growth in the future. Veincentre also encompasses the specialist medical devices company EVLA Expert, which provides UK manufactured all in one kits for EVLA at a fraction of the price of the major laser manufacturers. We are always on the lookout for ‘hungry’ keen vascular specialists to join our friendly multidisciplinary team of nurses, surgeons and radiologists.”
This article is part of a series of BIBA Briefings columns published in Venous News International. For previous columns, see past issues.