Anyone who reads my article regularly will recognise that one of my “straplines” is “look after your feet you only get one pair!” This has never been truer!
The number of diabetics in the UK is now over 4 million and rising, according to figures from Diabetes UK. It has been shown that around 6000 people with diabetes have leg, foot or other amputations each year which equals to 100 amputations a week. People with diabetes are more likely to be admitted into a hospital with a foot ulcer than any other complication of diabetes. Following, an amputation, up to 80% of people die within 5 years. This is a higher mortality rate than colon, breast or prostate cancer.
However, up to 80% of amputations are potentially avoidable. Health education is paramount in making diabetics aware of the risk factors and to act swiftly if they notice any problems or changes. Apparently, health information varies greatly from area to area and it is essential that individuals take responsibility for their own health.
Good quality footcare is essential and, as a profession, we would rather spend 2 minutes with a patient to reassure them that there are no problems, rather than find out that a lesion had been there for weeks. Another one of my sayings is “If in doubt, shout!”
Not only is the personal suffering a huge cost but also the monitory implication is tremendous – £1 in every £140 the NHS spends is on foot ulcers and amputations. The vast majority of diabetic foot ulcers are managed by podiatrists in the community, however investment in this service is reducing and posts are being cut. This can only lead to more suffering and a decrease in quality of life.
So I say again “Look after your feet you only get one pair!”