Urge for diabetics to check their feet

A display of 20 empty shoes will be helping to stress the importance for diabetics to have daily foot checks as part of a new campaign being launched by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Every day, there are 20 people nationally who have a limb amputated as a result of diabetes, prompting health professionals at the Hospital to raise awareness of daily foot checks.

Between 2013-2016, a total of 16 people in the West Norfolk area had a limb amputated due to complications caused by diabetes. The condition damages the nerves and blood vessels that serve the limbs, which can put them at risk of developing wounds on the feet called ulcers.  Foot ulcers precede amputation in over 80% of cases.

Diabetes is a growing problem in West Norfolk with one in five of the Hospital’s patients being treated for Type 1 or Type 2.

Suzanna foot check

Members of Team QEH are coming together to promote the foot care message by supporting World Diabetes Day on November 14 and World Stop Pressure Ulcer Day on November 16.  The aim of diabetic foot assessments in hospital is to ensure that patients with diabetes do not develop a foot ulcer during their stay, and those who are admitted to hospital with a current foot ulcer get the right care straight away.

Principal Podiatrist Suzanna Grimes, who is based at the QEH but works for Norfolk Community Health and Care, said: Our amputation rates in West Norfolk are falling year-on-year but it is so important that people with diabetes attend their GP surgery for annual foot screening and check their feet every day – whether in hospital or not.

“More than 60,000 people with diabetes in England are thought to have foot ulcers at any given time and the cost of diabetic foot disease to the NHS was £1billion in 2014 and 2015.

“The risk of lower limb amputation is 20 times more likely for someone with diabetes than for people without the condition.

“People with diabetes can get foot problems because there is too much sugar in the blood over a long period of time.  This can affect the nerves in the foot, which can prevent a patient from feeling any pain – so they may not be aware that they have a foot problem.

“That is why it is so important for people with diabetes to check their own feet daily or to ask someone else look them over. If people manage their diabetes well and take good care of their feet, most foot problems can be prevented.

“It is vital to contact a health professional immediately if anything unusual is found during these daily checks.  Look for new redness or swelling, cuts, cracks or breaks in the skin, and any weeping or discharge.

“You should never ignore a problem with your feet, however minor you might think it is.  Foot problems can develop really quickly and urgent assessment is vital to prevent more severe complications.”

An older population is one of the reasons why up to 20 per cent of the Hospital’s patients have diabetes.

Diabetes Specialist Nurse Vicki Brindle said: “We want to remind people with diabetes to check their feet daily and to empower patients with diabetes that come into hospital to ask for their feet to be checked by a health professional every day.”

For more information about diabetic footcare go to http://www.diabetes.org.uk

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 Pictured are: Principal Podiatrist Suzanna Grimes with Senior Diabetes Podiatrist Natasha Salawu

Suzanna Grimes also completes a foot check

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