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MPs visit the Diabetes Foot Clinic at King's College Hospital

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Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes and Dewesbury MP Paula Sherriff have called for more to be done to help avoid unnecessary diabetes-related amputations.Ms McInnes and Ms Sherriff attended a special tour of King’s College Hospital Diabetic Foot Clinic in London, (on Tuesday, April 12), where they met with the multidisciplinary foot team and patients and found out about how major amputations are often avoided.

What good care looks like

King’s College Hospital was selected for the visit, organised by Diabetes UK, because its service and care represents some of the best in the country. While each local area faces its own unique challenges, the King’s Hospital Diabetic Foot Clinic shows what good care looks like and the huge difference it makes – since being established in 1981, King’s College Hospital’s multidisciplinary foot care team has achieved a significant reduction in the number of amputations in patients experiencing major foot problems as a result of diabetes-relatedcomplications, and has one of the lowest incidences of major amputation in the country.Over 135 diabetes-related amputations currently take place each week in England. However it is estimated that, with better care and support, four out of five of these amputations could have been prevented. Amputations and foot ulcers have a huge impact on quality of life in terms of pain, mobility, depression, relationships and a person’s ability to work, and tragically up to 80 per cent of people die within five years of having had an amputation.Beyond the human cost there is also a huge opportunity for the NHS to save money by improving foot care services. The already overstretched NHS spends about £10 billion on diabetes every year and an estimated 80 per cent of this is spent on treating diabetes-related complications. In England in 2012, it was estimated that more than £639 million – or £1 in every £150 spent by the NHS - is spent each year on treating foot ulcers and amputations. Liz McInnes MP is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Diabetes and said she wanted to visit King’s Foot Clinic to help keep diabetes-related amputations high on the government’s agenda.

"I am committed to being a strong voice for people with diabetes"

Liz McInnes said: “I was delighted to visit the King’s College Hospital Diabetic Foot Clinic and find out more about their support and care services with theirs being some of the best in the country. Having a major amputation is life-changing and there is still far too much variation across the country with numbers of people having amputations. This is why I am committed to being a strong voice for people with diabetes in Parliament and to highlight this important issue and push for urgently and much-needed improvements to services that will help to prevent people suffering amputations unnecessarily.”

Ms Sherriff, a member of the Health Select Committee, said: “The visit was really interesting and patients were absolutely thrilled with the care they received, which was clearly very good. We met a man who had been just two days away from amputation, who had then asked for a second opinion. He was referred to the Diabetic Foot Clinic at King's and with treatment required no surgery and has now made almost a full recovery."

Bridget Turner, Director of Policy and Care Improvement at Diabetes UK, said: “There are currently over four million people living with diabetes in the UK and as these numbers continue to soar so do the numbers of diabetes-related amputations which not only have a devastating impact on people’s lives but also see people die within five years of having one.“While some areas have made real efforts to improve the poor state of diabetes foot care services so much more still needs to be done. For example not enough people are receiving their annual foot checks and those who do often tell us their check was not very thorough. As a result they do not understand their risk of amputation, how to look after their feet and the importance of getting help urgently if their foot health deteriorates.“But this does not need to happen. A vast number of amputations are not inevitable and we know that with better care and support many people can be saved the trauma of enduring devastating diabetes-related amputations. The current postcode lottery in care and support across different areas of the country is unacceptable and we need all areas to take steps now to ensure they are providing effective care and support, including having a multidisciplinary team, so that all people with diabetes have the best chance of having healthy feet and avoiding unnecessary amputations.”Dr. Michael Edmonds, Professor of Diabetic Foot Medicine at King’s College Hospital, said: “Foot care for patients with diabetes is of paramount importance. Failure to adequately treat foot ulcers can result in the rapid onset of infection, which can lead to amputation. Here at King’s we try to heal ulcers long before it gets to that stage.“By providing urgent assessment, we use state of the art treatment to manage infection and improve blood supply to the foot. In cases where the foot structure has significantly deteriorated, surgery is used to reconstruct the limb.”     

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