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Putting Feet First in Northern Ireland

Diabetes UK Northern Ireland is taking part in the organisation-wide campaign entitled 'Putting Feet First' to raise awareness of amputations among people living with diabetes and work to prevent future unnecessary amputations.

Last year in Northern Ireland there were 199 diabetes-related amputations and the Putting Feet First Campaign highlights the fact that an estimated 80 per cent of these lower limb amputations are preventable. Diabetes UK will campaign throughout the UK addressing issues specific to each area in a bid to reduce diabetes-related amputations by 50 per cent within five years.

Florence Findlay White, National Care Advisor at Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said: “Diabetic foot problems arise from reduced circulation to the feet and damaged nerve endings in the feet and, so, a big part of bringing this to an end is giving people with diabetes information about how to look after their feet. Many people with diabetes aren’t even aware that amputation is a potential complication. We also need to make sure that people with diabetes understand what healthcare they should be getting.”

“The sad fact is that there are opportunities within the current healthcare system for problems to be detected early and treatment obtained before complications become insurmountable. Quality of care makes a big difference to amputation rates. Foot ulcers can deteriorate in a matter of hours so failing to refer someone quickly enough can literally be the difference between losing a foot and keeping it.”

“Amputations have a devastating effect on quality of life and so every amputation that results from poor healthcare is a tragedy. Put together, these add up to a scandal that is one of the reasons that life expectancy for someone with diabetes is significantly shorter than for the general population. It is a scandal that needs to be brought to an end.”

Activity in Northern Ireland

Working with Healthcare Professionals

In Northern Ireland activity will include working with healthcare professionals in GP practices and areas such as A&E departments to increase awareness of the signs of early complications and the need for a quick and timely referral to specialist staff. Diabetes UK Northern Ireland also want everyone with diabetes to get a thorough annual foot check and for foot ulcers to be referred to specialist diabetes foot care teams within 24 hours.

Raising awareness among the diabetes community

The charity will also be working to raise awareness of the potential for foot problems among the 85,000 people diagnosed with diabetes in Northern Ireland. As well as people being made aware of their risk, the charity will be providing the necessary information so people are educated as to how to care for their feet properly.

Establishing a Regional Strategy

A final strand of the campaign will be the introduction of a Regional Strategy which will officially recognise and promote the current practices for referrals and treatment and ensure all Trust areas are working in the same way.

Diabetes UK hopes the new research will highlight the importance of healthcare professionals supporting the Putting Feet First campaign by making sure they understand the foot care people with diabetes should be getting and the potentially devastating consequences of this not happening.

People can find out more about the Putting Feet First campaign and get relevant health information and advice on the main campaign page.

Get Involved

You can help the campaign in several ways;

  • If you or a family member has diabetes take care of your feet and follow the ten top tips for healthy feet
  • If you have experienced problems with your feet, share your story and encourage others to be proactive in looking after their feet. Email Shakheera.Ross@diabetes.org.uk with a brief outline of your experience.
  • Display awareness materials in your GP surgery, local pharmacy or in your community
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