Charity calls for more foot checks for diabetics

by Barbara Hewitt on March 6, 2014

Around a million people with diabetes in the UK are at increased risk of developing foot disease, and many of these individuals are failing to take steps to reduce this risk, it is claimed.

According to leading charity Diabetes UK up to a third of all diabetes patients are more likely to suffer an injury to a foot which has reduced feeling or reduced blood circulation and it points out that left untreated, such injuries can lead to a lower limb amputation.


Diabetes UK is calling on healthcare professionals to ensure everyone with diabetes has their feet checked at least once a year

The charity is also warning that many of the 6,000 diabetes related amputations that occur each year are the result of a lack of awareness of the symptoms and treatment of diabetic foot problems, as well as poor services.

Many people are being left in the dark about what to look for and when to seek medical help, meaning those who develop foot disease often suffer in silence for months. As a result, treatment is often delayed for months, thus lowering the patient’s chances of saving their foot. In addition, 15% of diabetics do not have an annual foot examination, while others get a checkup but are not told whether they are at high risk of foot disease.

To help improve the current situation and ultimately reduce amputation rates amongst diabetic patients, Diabetes UK is calling on healthcare professionals to ensure everyone with diabetes has their feet checked at least once a year, are informed of their risk status, and understand the importance of good foot care and the urgent need to see their GP if they have any signs of a foot attack.

Every GP surgery in the country will also be sent a newly launched patient information booklet called How to Spot a Foot Attack. The booklet highlights the early symptoms of active foot disease such as red, warm or swollen feet, cracks in the skin, discharge, etc. and includes a card reminding people at high risk of a foot attack to seek urgent medical attention if they spot any of these signs.

‘All too often, people are seeing the signs of foot disease but not acting on it and potentially losing their foot as a result. The NHS needs to shift its approach to diabetic foot disease so that making people understand the importance of addressing foot problems quickly is seen as being as important as what happens once they are seen by a doctor,’ said Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive.

‘We also need to see more people with diabetes getting a good quality annual foot check and more healthcare professionals taking the time to talk to these patients about their feet. For example, many people with diabetes experience loss of feeling in their foot, so it is crucial that they understand the importance of regularly checking their own feet for changes or getting a carer to do so, as they may be having a foot attack but not be experiencing any pain or discomfort,’ she added.

The charity adds that controlling blood sugar levels is vital for preventing foot problems and other diabetes complications, and research studies have shown that reducing HbA1c, a long term average measure of blood glucose, by just 1% can slash the risk of amputation by some 43% in people with type 2 diabetes.

To help people achieve this, – Europe’s largest diabetes community website – has launched a revolutionary diabetes management program for people with type 2 Diabetes who are not on insulin.

Aimed at individuals who do not have access to test strips on the NHS, the Type 2 Testing Program aims to empower individuals with type 2 diabetes to improve their glycaemic control, reduce their HbA1c and subsequent risk of complications through structured blood glucose testing.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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