Patients with diabetes are not receiving proper advice about the risks diabetes poses to their feet, according to research by Diabetes UK.
As part of its Putting Feet First campaign, the charity said the lack of proper foot checks is putting patients at increased risk of amputation. As a result, it is calling for Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to make sure healthcare professionals carrying out the annual foot checks are given the proper training. The charity also wants people with diabetes to know what a good foot check looks like so they can make sure they are getting one.
In its online survey of 6,696 people with diabetes, almost a third (32%) said they had not been informed about their level of risk of foot problems at their annual foot check. The same proportion said they were not given advice about foot care and almost one in five people (18%) said they did not have their feet checked for corns, calluses and changes in shape.
Of the 1,476 people who said they had been told they were at an increased risk of foot problems, almost two thirds (62%) reported that they had not been referred to a foot protection team or a podiatrist, which is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. One per cent of people said they did not even remove their socks or tights at their check.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The annual foot check is very much a first line of defence against amputation, and clearly it is not working as well as it should. We know that early treatment can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding amputation, so it is vital that we take action to address this.
“We want the NHS to ensure that everyone who carries out the foot check understands how to do it and has the time to do it properly. The check must also include telling all people with diabetes about their level of risk of foot problems so they are properly informed and supported to take care of their feet properly.”
Up to 80% of diabetes-related amputations in England each year are preventable, and Diabetes UK has warned that inadequate foot checks are part of the reason that so many amputations happen.