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New initiative backs better foot care for diabetics

People living with diabetes are at a greater risk of suffering foot ulcers and amputations. Credit: PA

Efforts are being made to ensure better foot care services for people across Northern Ireland living with diabetes, which carries an increased risk of amputation.

There are currently almost 100,000 people living with diabetes across the region who are at increased risk of developing diabetic complications.

Foot ulcers are the most common complication and precede 80% of amputations.

150-200
Number of amputations carried out in NI each year due to diabetes

To mark World Diabetes Day, the Diabetes Network for Northern Ireland has launched a new Foot Care Pathway.

It enables all adults with diabetes to access the same services no matter where they live in Northern Ireland and consists of four steps, including annual foot care screening.

The initiative focuses on the prevention of ulcers and therefore amputations, ultimately reducing hospital admissions.

Dr Hamish Courtney, Consultant Diabetologist and Clinical Lead for the Diabetes Network said: “When treated in a timely and effective manner, many if not all of these complications can be significantly reduced or avoided.

“If problems are identified during the review, the patient will be referred to the appropriate step on the Pathway and cared for by an appropriate healthcare professional depending on their need.”

  • VIDEO: UTV's Ken Reid on the importance of managing diabetes

Speaking as someone who lost a toe through ignoring the problem, it is essential feet are checked daily. Problems must be dealt with quickly and the new Pathway will ensure the best of treatment.

– UTV’s Ken Reid

Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride added: “The Department recognises that diabetes is one of the most challenging chronic conditions facing people in Northern Ireland and the impact the condition has at both a population and individual level.

“The Diabetes Foot Care Pathway has been established as an action from the Diabetes Strategic Framework.

“It will provide opportunities forall patients to access structured foot health education and offer timely accessto outpatient, inpatient and day-case services and ultimately improve outcomes of those living with diabetes.”

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