Published on 27 October 2015

Thanks to a pioneering approach to caring for people with diabetes-related foot problems the Diabetes Foot team from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have reduced the number of amputations in the city by almost 50%.

In recognition of their work, the specialist team recently won the Best Initiative in Specialised Services category at the Quality in Care Diabetes awards. The awards aim to recognise, reward and share good practice in diabetes management, education and patient care.

The Sheffield team carried out a 12-month study of the root cause of all amputations which resulted in the introduction of a number of different methods to improve outcomes and pathways for people with diabetes-related foot problems.

Good self-management of diabetes can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes-related foot complications

The initiatives include setting up a diabetes foot hotline to provide community healthcare workers immediate access to advice and support from hospital-based consultant diabetologists. Access to training for primary care screeners was improved, along with the level of education and information available to people with diabetes. The enhanced service allows people with diabetes to be seen by the specialist team as soon as a problem arises.

This new care pathway has resulted almost half as many major amputations compared to 2009.

Dr Rajiv Gandhi, Consultant in Diabetes at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This award is a testament to the hard work of the Sheffield Diabetes Foot Team, of whom we should be tremendously proud. People with diabetes, who develop problems with their feet, need to be seen rapidly by the specialist foot team if we are to avoid serious complications like amputations. Working closely together across hospital and community settings, and putting the patient at the centre of the care we deliver, has been the key to the success we have achieved.”

Dr Gandhi added: “Being able to reduce amputation rates by almost 50% in such a short period, particularly at a time when national rates have remained static, is a stunning achievement that is having a tangible positive impact on the lives of people with diabetes in Sheffield.”

Quality in Care award judges said: “Judges like the mindset of the situation analysis and feel that the team have a genuine understanding of the patient journey and have put this at the centre of care. It is a good multi-disciplined team approach, dealing with a very complex situation and has strong results.”

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