Dorset has one of the highest numbers of leg ulcers in the country, and yet just 20 years ago, there was no specialist service to tackle the problem.

Today, thanks to the passion and commitment of NHS Specialist Nurse Val Reynolds, Dorset HealthCare celebrates the two decades of running its dedicated service.

With weekly clinics throughout the county the team currently as a caseload of more than 200 people.

“There was a dearth of guidance, training and support locally,” said Ms Reynolds, “I wanted to improve care for patients within Dorset to be in line with rest of the UK.

“I developed a business plan and persuaded my manager to release me for half an afternoon a week to run a leg ulcer clinic.

“I also began teaching at Bournemouth University the following year, and established leg ulcer training across the county for nursing staff.”

Leg ulcers have many causes, most commonly when patient has a history of varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, as well as intravenous drug use.

It is a chronic condition affecting people in their 20s through to old age and can lead to life-changing complications.

Ms Reynolds said: “Leg ulcers can have a massive impact on people’s lives. People often avoid going out, which can result in them becoming withdrawn and depressed.

“Sadly, some patients have lost their jobs and I've seen it affect their marriages.

“We provide consistent specialist care for patients every week, including dressings, bandaging, and advice."

Now, the team of 30 specialist staff offer specialist assessments and also continues to train district nurses, hospital staff, practice nurses and care home workers.

Andy, 45, developed leg ulcers eight years ago and following various complications was told his left leg would need to be amputated by the hospital.

But, a year ago he began attending the leg ulcer clinic, and is now on the road to recovery.

Her said: “The pain was indescribable. I’d lost my mobility, and some days I couldn’t even get out of bed.

“I never thought they would heal, but the leg ulcer team really turned things around. They know what they are doing, and explained what we needed to do.

"My quality of life is so much better now, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

A special conference will take place in Poole next week to mark the service’s 20th anniversary with guest speaker Joy Tickle, a tissue viability nurse who appeared on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies programme.

If you would like to access this service, speak to your GP or other health care professional. For a full list of clinic locations, visit