To mark World Diabetes Day that was on 14 November 2019, the Diabetes Network for Northern Ireland has launched a new Foot Care Pathway to improve services for adults living with diabetes.
There are currently almost 100,000 people living with diabetes across the region who are at increased risk of developing diabetic complications including foot problems.
People with diabetes are more likely to be admitted to hospital with a foot ulcer than with any other complication of diabetes.
Diabetes carries an increased risk of amputation, and 80% of amputations are preceded by foot ulcers. Between 150-200 amputations are carried out in Northern Ireland each year due to diabetes of which around 100 are major amputations.
The new Diabetes Foot Care Pathway enables all adults with diabetes to access the same services no matter where they live in Northern Ireland. It consists of 4 steps including annual foot care screening through to advanced foot disease care and treatment with a focus on the prevention of ulcers and amputations which will ultimately reduce hospital admissions.
Welcoming the new pathway, Dr Hamish Courtney, Consultant Diabetologist and Clinical Lead for the Diabetes Network explained: “Foot disease is a complication of diabetes and can cause extreme pain, ulcers, amputations, disability and increased mortality. When treated in a timely and effective manner however many, if not all of these complications can be significantly reduced or avoided.
“Following diagnosis and an initial assessment by a podiatrist, patients will receive an individual care plan with yearly screening to check foot health. If problems are identified during the review the patient will be referred to the appropriate step on the Pathway and cared for by an appropriate healthcare professional depending on their need.
“Keeping a close eye on your feet is very important and you should take time to do this every day – Your Feet Your Care,” he said.
Ken Reid, a Political Correspondent who lives with diabetes commented: “This is an important initiative as foot care must be a top priority for diabetic patients. Speaking as someone who lost a toe through ignoring the problem, it is essential feet are checked daily. Problems must be dealt with quickly and the new Pathway will ensure the best of treatment.”
Attending the launch of the new initiative, the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride added: “The Department recognises that diabetes is one of the most challenging chronic conditions facing people in Northern Ireland and the impact the condition has at both a population and individual level.
“The Diabetes Foot Care Pathway has been established as an action from the Diabetes Strategic Framework. It will provide opportunities for all patients to access structured foot health education and offer timely access to outpatient, inpatient and day-case services and ultimately improve outcomes of those living with diabetes.”
Key partner of the Diabetes Network, Dr David Chaney, Assistant Director for Local Impact at Diabetes UK said:
“The new Pathway is a welcome step in the prevention of diabetes related amputations and improvement of access to foot care for people living with the condition in Northern Ireland. Diabetes related complications, including amputations, can be devastating but they can be prevented with the right treatment and support.
Thanks to the work of the Diabetes Network, together with people with diabetes and healthcare professionals this pathway will offer timely intervention, care and support when needed, significantly improving quality of life for those with the condition.”