Foot care NEEDS a priority for people living with diabetes

12 May 2014

The North East Essex Diabetes Service (NEEDS) has highlighted the importance of offering information and advice for people living with diabetes about the importance of good foot care. The move comes as a new report shows that the area has higher than average incidences of diabetes-related amputations.

A report published by Public Health England , which has analysed diabetic foot care activity in all CCG’s in England, shows a widening gap between the best and worst performing areas as well as a lack of success in reducing  the rate of diabetes-related amputations.

Between April 2010 and March 2013 there were 3 diabetes-related amputations per 1,000 diabetes patients in North East Essex, compared with a 2.6 England average and 0.7 in the best performing area. The NEEDS service, which started in April 2014, was commissioned by the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group to improve the quality of care for adults with diabetes. The NEEDS service aims to reduce diabetes-related complications, including amputations, through better information and advice which enables patients to manage their condition better.

Dr Vithian Karunakaran, lead Diabetologist for NEEDS, says: ‘The majority of diabetes-related amputations are preventable and the risk of foot disease can be significantly reduced through the provision of good foot care and patient awareness. Everyone living with diabetes must take care of their feet and if they have any concerns, must flag them up to their GP, who can make a referral to the specialist NEEDS podiatry clinics which are running locally.”

Most care for the 17,000 adults in North East Essex living with diabetes will be provided by the patient’s GP or practice nurses, including annual foot checks which are part of every patient’s annual diabetes review. Where a need is identified for specialist foot care, patients are referred to the NEEDS podiatry clinics which run in a number of community venues across North East Essex with main sites in Colchester and Clacton. Patients with complex needs for foot care receive treatment by the NEEDS service at clinics run from Colchester General Hospital.

GP practices are receiving support and further diabetes training and are supplemented by a diabetes specialist team and the podiatry team who manage individual patients referred by their GP practice. The diabetes specialist team is led by the consultant Diabetologist.

Sharon Roberts, Diabetes UK Eastern Regional Manager, said: “We welcome the commitment from the North East Essex Diabetes Services to reduce unnecessary diabetes-related complications including amputations. Around 80 per cent of diabetes linked amputations are preventable and Diabetes UK has been working with the North East Essex team to improve their figures by introducing new foot care processes for all people living with diabetes. We are pleased changes have been made to the way care is given to those with diabetes and we look forward to seeing reductions in amputation rates and other complications in the future.

“Feet checks are one of the 15 checks which form part of the Diabetes UK 15 Heathcare Essentials campaign which spells out the exact care and checks everyone living with the condition should demand from their our health services. “

Those living with diabetes are encouraged to find out about the education courses available by telephoning 0345 241 3313 or emailing education@needs.org.uk Also see the website www.diabetesneeds.org.uk

The Public Health England findings can be accessed at: http://www.yhpho.org.uk/default.aspx?RID=116836

More information on the Diabetes UK 15 Healthcare Essentials campaign is available at: www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Monitoring/15-healthcare-essentials/