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Over 80 hospitals lack specialist footcare teams

There are over 80 hospitals in England and Wales that do not have the specialist diabetes footcare teams that are widely recognised as being important for preventing diabetes-related amputations.

The hospitals, whose names are being published today by Diabetes UK and come from data from the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit, have not set up multidisciplinary footcare teams (MDTs) for patients with diabetes – despite this being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Establishing these teams would help reduce the amputation rate in people with diabetes, which is more than 20 times higher than in the rest of the population.

Putting Feet First

There are about 100 diabetes-related amputations every week in the UK, but up to 80 per cent of these could be prevented. Our Putting Feet First campaign aims to reduce amputation rates by half over the next five years.

Preventable amputations

One of the reasons for the high levels of preventable amputations is that diabetic foot problems can deteriorate very quickly – this is why people with diabetes who have foot ulcers should be referred to an MDT within 24 hours. There is evidence that MDTs are effective at preventing diabetic amputations; because amputations are so expensive to treat, MDTs can also save the NHS money.

We are calling for the 84 hospitals without an MDT to establish one, and are writing to the chief executives of these hospitals' trusts to make the case. We are also urging people to check whether their local hospital has one, and to write to the chief executive of their local hospital's trust if not.

Hospitals "letting people down"

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "Everyone agrees that specialist hospital footcare teams are important for preventing amputations and can save the NHS money. It is appalling that so many hospitals are letting down people with diabetes by still not having one of these teams in place.

"Short-termist approach"

"It is a tragic example of the short-termist approach of some hospitals that they are failing to invest in an MDT, despite the fact that the financial savings from doing fewer amputations is likely to outweigh the cost of setting up one of these teams.

Trauma and loss of mobility

"These teams have been shown to work and we need to make sure they are in place in every hospital so we can stop more people having to go through the trauma and loss of mobility that comes from having a foot amputated.

"We will be writing to the chief executives of the trusts running all of these hospitals to ask what provisions they have in place, and if these do not allow 24 hour access we will demand that they establish one of these teams.

Add your voice to ours

"We also want to let people with diabetes who live near these hospitals know about this, because if they develop a foot ulcer then having one of these teams in place could mean the difference between them keeping a foot and losing it. I would urge them to write to their local hospital's trust to make their feelings known and so add their voices to ours."Find out if your local hospital has an MDT.

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