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Diabetes Foot Care

Checked: 28-02-2023 by 3 Vicky Ryan Next Review: 28-02-2024

Overview

This guidance refers to patients with diabetes and with active foot problems. Ulceration above the ankle in a patient with diabetes should be managed as per the leg ulcer guidance.

Patients with diabetes develop foot ulceration more commonly than other people due to a combination of factors (neuropathy, change in foot shape/mechanics and poor perfusion).

More than 5% of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime, with around 2% of people experiencing an active ulcer at one moment in time. Foot ulceration is also associated with a two and a half fold increased risk of premature death – 5% of patients are dead with a year of developing an ulcer, and 40% within 5 years. This is mainly due to an excess in cardiovascular related mortality. In England 135 people with diabetes undergo a lower limb amputation every week – it is estimated that up to 80% may be preventable. Care related to foot care and amputations in patients with diabetes is estimated to cost £927million to £1.13 billion per annum (2014/5).

The National Diabetic Foot Audit (https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/clinical-audits-and-registries/national-diabetes-foot-care-audit) has identified that the time taken between the patient first presenting with a foot problem to getting an expert assessment is the most important factor in reducing time of healing of foot ulcers and reducing the risk of amputation. In BNSSG, 67% of patients wait longer than 2 weeks between first being seen in the practice and having a specialist assessment - this is now mainly due to delay in decision to refer. In the rest of England & Wales only 25% of patients wait this long.

EVERY PATIENT WITH DIABETES AND A NEW ACTIVE PROBLEM NEEDS REFERRAL

Diabetic foot problems: prevention and management (NG19)

New active foot problems in person with diabetes

All patients with diabetes who present with non-life or limb threatening active foot conditions should be referred within 1 working day. This includes Charcot arthropathy. Referrals will be triaged by community foot care team within 1 working day. Please make this referral to the community podiatry team as you normally would do. ANY healthcare professional can refer a patient.

The community podiatry team will escalate the referral for review in the secondary care diabetic foot service (7952085 Diabetic Foot Service RAS – Southmead Hospital) as required based on red flags in the referral or limited community capacity.

If a patient is seen in the practice with a deteriorating foot problem and is already known to the secondary care service (but does not have an immediately life or limb threatening problem) they should be re-escalated using referapatient®. Any healthcare team member can escalate using this service.

Sirona Community Podiatry Service

Please see the Community Podiatry Services page

Resources

Sirona’s Feet and Diabetes resources



Efforts are made to ensure the accuracy and agreement of these guidelines, including any content uploaded, referred to or linked to from the system. However, BNSSG ICB cannot guarantee this. This guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer, in accordance with the mental capacity act, and informed by the summary of product characteristics of any drugs they are considering. Practitioners are required to perform their duties in accordance with the law and their regulators and nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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