Approximately 5843 people with diabetes in Northern Ireland are at increased risk of amputation because they have not received a neuropathy test. This is an essential check which tests for damage to the foot which, if not treated early enough, can lead to amputation.
Diabetes causes approximately 150 amputations in Northern Ireland every year, of which around 80 per cent are potentially preventable. Diabetes UK warns that amputation is just one complication that people with diabetes could be at risk of because they are missing out on a wide range of health checks and specialist services.
Checklist of 15 essential care measures
A neuropathy test is one of a checklist of 15 healthcare essentials, to help people with diabetes understand what services they should get to help them manage their condition. Recent figures show that people with diabetes are also not receiving other essential checks. According to figures from GP practices, around 5000 people have not received a vital check of their kidneys which puts them at higher risk of kidney failure and 4220 people have not received retinal screening which tests for eye disease (diabetic retinopathy). Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the country’s working-age population.
Preventing serious long-term complications
Barbara Young, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said, "Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to devastating long-term complications including blindness, kidney failure and amputations. The tragedy is that, for example, 90 per cent of cases of sight loss could have been avoided if they had been identified early enough and treated appropriately.
"The 15 healthcare essentials will help ensure people with diabetes are getting the care they need, and if they’re not, Diabetes UK wants people to use the checklist and ask for the standards of care that have been recommended by expert bodies and patients across the UK. With the right care and education, there is no reason why people with diabetes shouldn’t live long and healthy lives."
The 15 healthcare essentialsare part of Diabetes UK’s Diabetes Watch campaign, a programme to monitor and highlight standards of diabetes care across the UK, and to support people with diabetes to get access to the right standards of care. We want people to use the checklist and, if there are any gaps in care, raise the issue with their healthcare team.
These 15 measures may not all be appropriate for children. Children will generally have more frequent HbA1c measurements and do not generally have formal screening for complications (eg blood pressure, blood fats, eyes feet and kidneys) until they are 12. However, their general health will be monitored by their healthcare team at each appointment.