Risk of foot amputation for diabetic patients due to lack of specialist care

  • Posted

Posted 31/07/2012

Diabetes UK have identified what they call an “appalling” lack of specialist services in hospitals across England and Wales. Of 206 hospitals they looked at, 84 had no specialist diabetes foot care teams. NHS Diabetes have said that where they are in place, these specialist services save a great deal of money.  For example, one hospital spent £33,000 a year on the service, but saved £250,000 a year by reducing the number of necessary amputations.

Someone suffering from diabetes is 20 times more likely to have an amputation than someone without diabetes. Amputation is normally proceeded by ulcers on the foot, but rapid recognition and treatment of these can heal the wounds and prevent amputation.

The chief executive of Diabetes UK has called the failure to establish specialist services more widely as a “tragic example of short-termist approach” in “failing to invest in a multi-disciplinary foot care team”, despite the evidence which shows that set up costs are likely to be outweighed by the financial savings in avoidance of amputations. She said “it is appalling that so many hospitals are letting down people with diabetes”.

Trefine Maynard, a Clinical Negligence solicitor at Ashtons Legal said: “We have dealt with a number of cases where diabetic patients have had to undergo amputation because of a failure to recognise and adequately treat foot problems early enough. It is tragic that the ability to pick up and treat these well recognised problems is being ignored, with the result that huge numbers of people with diabetes needlessly lose a limb every year. As Diabetes UK have pointed out, it would clearly be cost effective if proper specialist services were to be set up across the country. We see the long term devastation that amputation can cause and it is unacceptable that every effort to prevent this is not being taken.”


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