Thousands of diabetes-related amputations could be prevented by high-quality foot checks being performed by nurses, according to Diabetes UK.
New figures, based on NHS data, have suggested that up to 80 per cent of diabetes-related amputations could be avoided with regular checks, and improved information about the patient's risk status.
Jackie Watts, a clinical advisor for Diabetes UK, said: 'Practice nurses are ideally placed to perform foot checks and assist diabetics…. [to ensure] they understand the risks of diabetes, … and raise the patient's awareness of how to manage their foot health.'
The figures show that there is a disparity of amputation figures between districts, with the worst performing area (Fareham and Gosport) conducting seven times as many procedures as the best performing area (Brent, in London). Ms Watts said: 'There is no single reason for this disparity. It is a combination of factors at all levels. There might be a lack of understanding on the doctor's behalf; no access to a multidisciplinary podiatry team or decisions to amputate may be made prematurely. It is also vitally important that patients have regular foot scans, so they can be referred to specialist's quickly.'
Foot checks are conducted to assess the risk to the patient of serious foot problems resulting from peripheral neuropathy. These can include diabetic foot ulcers which can result in amputation. Foot checks comprise a visual check and testing with a microfilament to gauge the sensitivity of the patient's extremities.
Diabetes UK has created an online education tool to support healthcare workers. For more information, visit: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Professionals/Training--competencies/Diabetes-in-Healthcare/.