More than 400,000 diabetics are at risk of having an amputation because they do not get what are meant to be annual NHS checks on their feet, campaigners are warning.
One in seven people with type 2 diabetes and almost three in 10 sufferers with type 1 are not receiving the recommended annual test of the health of their feet, claims Diabetes UK.
An “unacceptable” number of diabetics are missing out on the checks, despite the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (Nice) advice to the NHS that everyone with the condition should be tested each year, the charity says.
Its analysis of NHS figures shows that an estimated 414,784 patients with either form of the disease do not get the check. That is equivalent to 13.3% of those with type 2, the form of the disease that is closely associated with obesity, and 27.7% of people with type 1, which is an autoimmune condition and not associated with lifestyle.
The checks are important for diabetics because those who end up with dangerously high blood-glucose levels can suffer nerve damage, poor circulation and reduced feeling in their feet and legs. That can then lead to them developing serious foot problems, including ulcers, which may result in them having to have a foot or leg amputated.
It was worrying that more than 400,000 diabetics did not undergo a check that could reduce the risk of an amputation, which was devastating for them and costly for the NHS, said Barbara Young, Diabetes UK’s chief executive. Diabetes, which costs the NHS £10bn a year, is a common cause of lower limb amputation, stroke and kidney failure.
“Given the high levels of preventable diabetes-related amputations, it is unacceptable that the proportion of people getting the check has already changed over recent years. It is one of the reasons so many people with diabetes are forced to endure an amputation and we urgently need to get to a point where everyone with the condition is getting their annual foot check,” added Young.
Too many checks were not thorough enough, with some patients not even being asked to remove their shoes or socks, and diabetics sometimes not being told what their risk was of developing complications or what to do to reduce it, added Young.
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Obesity and Diabetes at NHS England said: “It is very important as many people as possible receive their foot checks at the right time – currently each year 85% of people with diabetes receive these foot checks.
“Caring for patients with diabetes is a priority for the NHS and NHS England, and we are pleased to note the suggestion from the latest national diabetes audit that major amputation rates are falling.”
Article source: The Guardian www.theguardian.com