Diabetes charity has concerns over foot service cuts

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A CHARITY is asking why health leaders have made cuts to a podiatry service which helps to reduce the rate of diabetic foot amputations.

As previously reported, Solent NHS Trust restructured its podiatry service, making five people redundant.

It comes as figures show Fareham and Gosport top the table for the highest number of amputations in the country.

Jill Steaton, Diabetes UK south east regional manager, said: ‘Our Putting Feet First campaign aims to reduce the number of major amputations by half in the next five years.

‘Therefore we recognise positive work has been done locally and there has been some progress to meet this target.

‘However more still needs to be done to continue to improve the poor amputation rates in the longer term.

‘We’d like to have some clarity as to how the NHS Solent Trust podiatry service can cope with the loss of five podiatrists.’

According to the National Diabetes Information Service, 129 diabetic foot amputations occurred in Fareham and Gosport between April 2009 to March 2012. This gives the area an amputation rate of 4.9 per 1,000 adults with diabetes.

This is compared to the national average of 0.9.

And although Portsmouth has reduced its rate to 4.3, it has the seventh highest rate in the country.

Graham Bowen, head of podiatry at Solent NHS Trust, said: ‘Any changes to the podiatry service are aimed at improving patient outcome and will not negatively impact on the care they receive.

‘By providing a team of podiatrists dedicated to the care of patients with diabetes and moving staff away from non-clinical roles, we are confident that patients will benefit from the restructuring of the service.

‘As we continue to structure the service to focus on diabetes care, we have already identified the need for three full time positions – so the “jobs redundancy” headline does not reflect developments within the service. There is a lot of work that needs to be done by NHS providers and commissioners to make further and faster improvements across the area.’