The importance of good foot care for diabetes sufferers

05 January 2018

Do our feet always get the care and attention they deserve? Probably not in most cases. 

Yet for diabetes sufferers, forgetting to look after your feet can have devastating, even life-changing consequences. 

According to Diabetes UK, there are more than 20 leg, foot or toe amputations every day in England due to diabetes. This is because raised blood sugar levels can reduce circulation and feeling in the feet, meaning that unnoticed and untreated foot problems, such as small blisters or wounds, can become medical emergencies. 

However, many of these amputations could be avoided through people managing their diabetes, checking their feet, and seeking treatment if problems are identified.  

This is something we in Barking and Dagenham take very seriously. In 2017 we identified diabetes as an area for improvement and our diabetes lead, Dr Anju Gupta, has worked with GP practices to deliver better outcomes for patients. 

As a result, we have more than doubled the uptake of all National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommendations for diabetes care, including foot checks, over the past 12 months. Last year, almost 90 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes and nearly 80 per cent of patients with type 1 diabetes received an annual foot check – both significantly above the England average. 

We have also established a register of pre-diabetic patients across our area and set up successful structured education programmes so GPs can help people as early as possible and prevent some of these complications developing – with a 10 per cent increase in newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes attending the programmes. 

Our GP practices are also showing improvement in the number of patients seen and treated for related conditions, as poor diabetes control, high cholesterol and high blood pressure all increase the risk of amputations. 

Good foot care is an essential part of improving diabetes outcomes, and patients should remember to examine their feet every day and consult a health professional if there are any abnormalities.   

For more information about foot care and diabetes, visit the Live Well diabetes page at NHS Choices (www.nhs.uk).