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Hospitals are ‘letting down’ people with diabetes

80% of amputations preventable with specialist teams

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hospitals are putting diabetic patients at risk of amputation by not having specialist diabetes footcare teams.

Diabetes UK has today published the names of over 80 hospitals in England and Wales that have not set up multidisciplinary footcare teams (MDTs), despite this being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The data was taken from the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "Everyone agrees that specialist hospital footcare teams are important for preventing amputations and can save the NHS money. It is appalling that so many hospitals are letting down people with diabetes by still not having one of these teams in place.

"It is a tragic example of the short-termist approach of some hospitals that they are failing to invest in an MDT, despite the fact that the financial savings from doing fewer amputations is likely to outweigh the cost of setting up one of these teams.”

Establishing these teams would help reduce the amputation rate in people with diabetes, which is more than 20 times higher than in the rest of the population.

There are about 100 diabetes-related amputations every week in the UK, but up to 80 per cent of these could be prevented, says Diabetes UK.

One of the reasons for the high levels of preventable amputations is that diabetic foot problems can deteriorate very quickly – this is why people with diabetes who have foot ulcers should be referred to an MDT within 24 hours. There is evidence that MDTs are effective at preventing diabetic amputations; because amputations are so expensive to treat, MDTs can also save the NHS money.

A report by the charity in March 2012 showed that one hospital spent £33,000 a year on specialist services but saved £250,000 a year by reducing the number of amputations.

Diabetes UK is calling for the 84 hospitals without an MDT to establish one, and is writing to the chief executives of these hospitals' trusts to make the case.

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