Warning over rate of diabetes-related foot amputations

Diabetics need regular feet checks
Diabetics need regular feet checks

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A CHARITY is warning that diabetics in the area are seven times more likely to have an amputation than patients in London.

Figures show people in Fareham and Gosport are more likely to have the operation than in Brent – in what Diabetes UK is calling a ‘post code lottery’.

But Doctor David Chilvers, clinical chairman for Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, said it is making ‘significant progress’.

He said: ‘We are confident there has been significant progress made with local services over the past 12 months.

‘We have a very close collaborative approach to commissioning diabetes services involving local CCGs.’

He said a new care team has been set up to tackle the problem.

‘One problem still facing us is the very high number of patients who present very late in their illness,’ he added.

‘We are working with local healthcare workers, public health colleagues and patients to constantly promote self-care.’

Diabetes sufferer Raymond Hale, of Fareham Diabetes Group, said: ‘It’s a great concern. We will be following it up with the clinical commissioning group.’

He said staff need to be trained better and referrals are taking too long.

Amputations are often carried out as high blood sugar with diabetes damages nerves, leading to an ulcer which can become gangrenous. Doctors remove the foot to stop the infection spreading.

Between 2010 and 2013, 5.1 per 1,000 patients in Fareham and Gosport CCG had foot amputations, compared to 0.7 per 1,000 in Brent.

In Portsmouth the figure was 4.3 and for the South Eastern Hampshire CCG, which covers Havant and Waterlooville, it was 4.1. The national average is 2.6.

Dr Partha Kar, clinical lead on the diabetes team at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, said its major amputations, above the ankle, have reduced.

It carried out 53 between April 2007 and March 2010 but this reduced to 35 between April 2007 and March 2013.

Between 2010 and 2013 there were 40 major and 99 minor amputations in Fareham and Gosport, compared to 41 and 88, between 2009 to 2012.

In the south eastern region there were 42 major and 81 minor between 2010 and 2013, compared to 41 and 67 in 2009 to 2012.

Dr Kar said: ‘Previously patients were reaching us at too late a stage – there was no room for intervention and so limbs had to be amputated.

‘But now when someone comes into our hospital with diabetes they are automatically given a foot assessment and we also have a number of diabetes nurses who go around and actively check our patients for ulcers.’

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: ‘It is hugely disappointing that these latest figures have not shown a reduction in the rate.’