‘Needless’ leg-off ops

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DIABETICS are at increased risk of foot amputation if they are being treated in Wigan hospitals according to a leading charity.

Diabetes UK say that unless Wrightington Wigan Leigh NHS Foundation Trust immediately employ specialist diabetes footcare teams at all three of their sites (Wigan Infirmary, Wrightington Hospital and Leigh Infirmary) needless amputations will continue to occur in the borough.

The hospitals are on a National Diabetes Inpatient Audit list of hospitals that do not have a multi-disciplinary footcare team (MDTs) for patients with diabetes despite this being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

According to Diabetes UK, having these teams in place to ensure quick referral can help reduce the amputation rate in people with diabetes, which is more than 20 times higher than in people without the condition. Up to 80 per cent of amputations in people with diabetes could be prevented.

Julie Byron, North West Regional Manager for Diabetes UK, said: “Everyone agrees that specialist hospital footcare teams are important for preventing amputations and can save the NHS money. This is why it is appalling that WWL is letting down people with diabetes by still not having these provisions in place.

“These teams have been shown to work and we need to make sure they are in place in so we can stop people in WWL unnecessarily having to go through the trauma and loss of mobility that comes from having a foot amputated.

“I will be writing to the chief executive of WWL to ask what provisions the hospital has in place and if these do not allow referral within 24 hours then demand it establishes one of these teams. At Diabetes UK we would be happy to work with the hospital and give them any support we can to help them establish one of these teams. We also want to let people with diabetes who live in the borough know about this because if they develop a foot ulcer then having one of these teams in place could literally mean the difference between them keeping a foot and losing it. I would urge them to write to WWL to make their feelings known and so add their voices to ours.”

WWL say that they are aware of the concerns raised by Diabetes UK and are addressing them.

A spokeswoman for WWL said: “WWL were aware and are actively addressing this issue in response to a query directly from Diabetes UK, which we received in early August. The current lower limb major amputation rate at the trust meets the national average and WWL are striving to improve this further.

“Currently patients with diabetic foot problems at WWL are managed collaboratively between orthopaedic, vascular, diabetes, podiatry and A&E services. WWL are actively working towards establishing a foot multi disciplinary team (MDT) that will allow referral into the system within 24 hours. This should be in place during 2013.”