Putting feet first for diabetes care



Bradford City clinical leaders put their feet first to highlight the importance of foot care for people with diabetes – and reduce the risk of amputation.

As part of the Bradford Beating Diabetes campaign, a team from NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) invited people to join them on a walk round City Park to find out why foot health really matters.

The CCG is backing Diabetes UK’s Putting Feet First campaign which aims to bring an end to the thousands of potentially preventable amputations affecting people with diabetes.

Dr Sohail Abbas, one of the GPs leading the BBD campaign, said: “It’s especially important to look after your feet if you have diabetes because it can reduce the blood supply to your feet and cause a lack of sensations; this can mean foot injuries do not heal well, and you may not notice if your foot is sore or injured.

“If you have diabetes, you’re 15 times more likely to have a limb amputated due to gangrene.

“The risk of complications can be greatly reduced if you’re able to bring your blood sugar levels under control. And if you have diabetes it’s important to try and stop smoking. Smoking impairs the blood circulation, particularly in people with diabetes, and can seriously worsen foot and leg problems.”

Local patients with diabetes are being urged to get their feet checked as part of the annual key tests they receive at their local GP practice to make sure their condition is well controlled and to help prevent long-term complications.

The CCG has made diabetes care and prevention a priority and is working closely with local GP practices to raise awareness of the importance of the tests and help them provide high quality care for over 8,000 people with diabetes.

It has been recognised for its innovation by being named as one of seven demonstrator sites for the National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. This is a joint initiative between NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK which aims to significantly reduce the four million people in England otherwise expected to have Type 2 diabetes by 2025.

Foot problems are a common complication of diabetes: nationally, more than 135 people with diabetes have a leg, foot or toe amputated each week – and four out of five of these amputations are preventable.

Jo Hammond, podiatry team leader at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “About 85% of amputations start with an ulcer and people with diabetes have a 15% chance of developing a foot ulcer in their lifetime – some of which are preventable. The diabetic foot check looks at your risks of developing an ulcer and includes a discussion about what you can do to help prevent them.

“The check is pain-free and only takes 15 minutes. The valuable information and advice you get at these appointments can make a real difference to your foot health.

“In Bradford we have a low amputation rate compared to many other areas, but healthcare is a two way thing: so if health professionals and the public work together we can continue to keep these rates low.”

Foot tips if you have diabetes:

  • see a podiatrist at least once a year

  • keep your feet clean and free from infection

  • wear shoes that fit well and don’t squeeze or rub. Ill-fitting shoes can cause corns and callouses, ulcers and nail problems

  • never walk barefoot, especially in the garden or on the beach on holidays and try to avoid sitting with your legs crossed

  • cut or file your toenails regularly

  • get corns or hard skin treated by a podiatrist

  • seek treatment from your GP or podiatrist if foot blisters or injuries do not heal quickly

  • treat ulcers urgently, within 24 hours, especially if there is a redness or swelling around the area, or in an area where you’ve previously been warned to seek immediate attention.