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Northern Ireland footcare scheme lowers amputations by 90 per cent

A pilot foot care scheme in Northern Ireland is driving down the number of diabetes-related amputations by 90 per cent.
There are more than 22,000 people on the diabetes register under the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and treating diabetes costs £1 million a day. It is estimated that 235 people in the region lost limbs in 2015 because of diabetes.
The Diabetes Foot Pathway scheme at the Causeway Hospital gives people the chance to see a podiatrist, dietitian and nurse in the same place within a 24 to 48 hour time period.
The pilot also gives GPs the power to refer emergency cases which ensures they are seen by someone on the same day.
Elaine Davidso, the trust’s principle podiatrist, said: “You can get blockages in the arteries, so a minor trauma to the foot can cause blisters, which can sometimes mean a foot emergency. We need to treat those patients within 24 to 48 hours.”
GP Brian Connor, who has been leading the project, said: “For many people who have diabetes this can be the silent killer. In the Northern Health Trust, we have so many patients; the highest number of patients across all of the health trusts who have had amputations due to diabetes.
“Not only is this having an impact on the patients’ lives but also the health service due to the costs incurred. In fact, Northern Ireland spends around £1 million a day treating diabetes.”
It is recommended people with diabetes check their feet every day to ensure foot ulcers do not develop.
People with the condition are at a greater risk of experiencing problems with their feet because of the damage raised blood sugar levels can do to sensation and circulation.
If calluses, changes of colour or breaks in the skin occur, it is advised people seek help from their healthcare team.

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