Inadequate foot checks for people with diabetes are leading to an increased risk of amputation, according to research conducted by Diabetes UK.
In a survey of 6696 people with diabetes, 32 per cent of respondents said that they had not been warned of the severity of foot problems when the foot check was conducted. A further 32 per cent said they had been given no advice about caring for their foot. Barbara Young, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: 'It is of great concern that so many people are being given foot checks that are not up to scratch.
Eighteen per cent reported that their feet were not checked for calluses and changes in shape, while one per cent said they had not removed their socks or tights during the check. 'Not only does this mean that we are potentially missing the chance to treat foot problems early enough to prevent amputation,' said Ms Young, 'but if people are having poor quality foot checks, then they might be getting a false sense of security that everything is alright.'
One respondent said: 'It would appear that if you pass the foot "touching with a stick" test, then all is fine, regardless of the fact that you have pain in the feet and numbness in the toes.'
Diabetes UK reports that over 80 per cent of diabetes-related amputations are preventable, with high-quality foot checks a major factor in decreasing the risk of amputation. The charity's campaign, Putting Feet First, focuses on encouraging CCGs to make sure healthcare professionals are adequately trained to perform foot checks and have enough time to carry them out properly. Mrs Young added: 'The annual foot check is very much a first line of defence against amputation, and clearly it is not working as well as it should. We know that early treatment can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding amputation, so it is vital that we take action to address this. We want the NHS to ensure that everyone who carries out the foot check understands how to do it and has the time to do it properly. The check must also include telling all people with diabetes about their level of risk of foot problems so they are properly informed and supported to take care of their feet properly... Until this happens, we will continue to see the unfolding tragedy of thousands of people a year having to endure amputations that could be avoided.'