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Sheffield foot clinic reports huge drop in diabetic amputation rates

Rates of diabetes-related amputations in Sheffield have significantly reduced, thanks largely to the introduction of a pioneering foot care programme.
In 2007, the number of amputations carried out on diabetes patients in Sheffield were among the highest in the country. But foot clinic staff at the city’s Northern General Hospital revealed that there are now 18 fewer cases of diabetes-related limb loss in the city every year, despite the fact that appointments at the Sheffield clinic have risen by 80%.
“We are delighted that, despite a dramatic increase in the number of people developing diabetes and diabetic foot problems in Sheffield in recent years, the changes we have made have led to this astonishing drop in the number of amputations in such a short period,” said Dr Rajiv Gandhi, a diabetes consultant at the hospital’s diabetes centre.
The major improvement in amputation rates has been attributed to a range of new measures introduced under an innovative diabetes foot care programme by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Gandhi explained: “The treatment pathway for diabetes-related foot problems is a complex one, with many different health professionals involved, including GPs, podiatrists, microbiologists, vascular surgeons and nursing staff. We restructured our foot care pathway to enable rapid access to a specialist team.
“Improved training for GPs and other healthcare professionals has meant they can spot problems more quickly and fast-track the patient, so they can see a consultant in 24 to 48 hours, if required.
“We’ve also introduced a diabetes foot hotline, run by a consultant diabetologist, which provides advice to any community healthcare professional on diabetes-related foot disease.”
Further changes to the hospital’s foot care service include closer liaison with microbiologists and improved patient education, highlighting specialist services that can be accessed without the need for a GP referral.
The new foot care programme has also been well received, with 9 in 10 patients at the Sheffield clinic saying they were satisfied with the services.

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