According to the audit, the percentage of hospitals without one of these teams, which NICE says every hospital (providing emergency medical care) should have, has fallen from 41.7% in 2011 to 28.2% now.
The lack of these specialist teams in 2011 prompted Diabetes UK to work with local services and people with diabetes in areas without them to highlight why they are so important. The charity made the case to local NHS organisations highlighting strong evidence from a clinical and cost saving standpoint, showing that having a multi-disciplinary footcare team (MDFT) help to prevent amputations and can also save the NHS money.
The audit states: “As part of Diabetes UK’s ‘Putting Feet First’ campaign, trusts reporting in their NaDIA audit to have no MDFT [multi-disciplinary footcare team] were made known in the local media. This negative reporting may account for the fall in sites without a MDFT to 28.2 per cent.”
The increase in hospitals that have these specialist teams means is being celebrated as a small but important step towards bringing down the high amputation rate in people with diabetes, who are over 20 times more likely to have a lower limb amputation than someone without the condition.
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “People with diabetes are at especially high risk of developing problems with their feet, so it is vital that if this happens then they are quickly seen by a team of specialists. Yet this has not been happening across the board and this is why we decided to campaign on this issue.
“We are delighted that so many hospitals have now put one of these teams in place, because it should mean that people with diabetes are less likely to need an amputation than previously.
“But while this is great news for people with diabetes, we will continue to work with local services on this issue until every hospital can guarantee quick access to one of these teams. We also need to understand that while these specialist teams are important, they are only part of the solution in terms of reducing the amputation rate from its unacceptably high level.
“We need to focus on every aspect of diabetes footcare, from making sure everyone with diabetes gets good quality annual foot checks in primary care all the way through to the approach of surgeons once diabetic foot disease has set in.”