Specialist diabetes foot care urged
Specialist diabetes foot care teams need to be in place in every hospital to prevent unnecessary amputations, a charity has said.
Diabetes UK said every hospital needs a multi-disciplinary footcare team (MDT) so patients living nearby do not suffer the "trauma and loss of mobility" that comes from having a foot amputated.
The charity made the comments after it found that 84 hospitals across England and Wales do not have such teams in place. It said 75 hospitals in England and nine in Wales had not set up an MDT despite the measure being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
A spokesman said that diabetic foot problems can deteriorate very quickly and people with diabetes who have foot ulcers should be referred to an MDT within 24 hours.
Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young said: "Everyone agrees that specialist hospital footcare teams are important for preventing amputations and can save the NHS money. This is why it is appalling that so many hospitals are letting down people with diabetes by still not having one of these teams in place.
"It is a tragic example of the short-term approach of some hospitals that they are failing to invest in an MDT despite the fact that the financial savings from doing fewer amputations is likely to outweigh the cost of setting up one of these teams.
"These teams have been shown to work and we need to make sure they are in place in every hospital so we can stop more people having to go through the trauma and loss of mobility that comes from having a foot amputated.
"We will be writing to the chief executives of the trusts of these hospitals to ask what provisions they have in place, and if these do not allow 24 hour access, demand they establish one of these teams.
"We also want to let people with diabetes who live near these hospitals know about this because if they develop a foot ulcer then having one of these teams in place could literally mean the difference between them keeping a foot and losing it. I would urge them to write to their local hospitals trust to make their feelings known and so add their voices to ours."
There are 3.7 million diabetes sufferers in the UK, but the charity estimates that 850,000 people have the disease but do not know it. The charity said that every week in the UK there are 100 diabetes-related amputations.