Chronic wounds represent a significant burden in the UK – to patients and to the healthcare system. With proper diagnosis and treatment, much of this burden is avoidable. The purpose of this paper is to provide an estimate of the annual cost of chronic wounds to the NHS. There are around 200,000 individuals in the UK at any time with a chronic wound – many more new wounds develop annually. The cost to the NHS of caring for these patients is conservatively estimated at £2.3bn to £3.1bn per year (at 2005/06 prices) – around 3% of total estimated 2005/06 expenditure on health (£89.4bn).