Patient warns loss of specialist podiatrists will compromise care in Northamptonshire

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A diabetes patient says the possible loss of 50 per cent of the senior specialist podiatrists in the county will compromise patient care.

Darren Dale, 38, from Kingsthorpe, has learned that two diabetes specialist podiatrists may be cut of the current four, something he believes will lead to a loss of experience and a greater risk of patients losing parts of their legs and feet.

The Diabetes UK Northampton area group have also written to the chief executive of the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), Angela Hillary, urging her to retain senior podiatry specialists.

A spokesman for the NHFT could not yet confirm whether senior podiatrists will be cut, but insisted no diabetes patient would be at risk from the changes.

Mr Dale said: “I am a diabetic and have quite severe problems with my feet. At the moment the guy who looks after me is experienced and has saved the feet of several patients I know. I don’t know if I would get the same level of care without him.

“Reducing staffing numbers will compromise care and is short sighted and a narrow-minded view. We need to do something about it.”

In a letter to NHFT, the Diabetes UK area group said: “All research shows that without the level of specialist care that is provided in the county at the moment more complications of diabetes will arise and, to put it bluntly, more people will lose their legs.”

The NHFT spokesman told the Chron that diabetes patients would continue to get the best possible care.

He said: “We are currently in the process of interviewing staff for the new structure, which has been based on the decreased activity that is planned due to the contract change implemented by commissioning. By skill mixing we have managed to retain as many staff as we possibly can to ensure that the high risk patients continue to get the best possible care.

“We will ensure that the staff in the structure will have the right skills to provide the care to the patients that we will continue to see.”

DIABETES UK has called for the local NHS to take urgent action to reduce the diabetes-related amputation rate in the area, following an analysis that has revealed it has a high rate.

According to Diabetes UK, the lack of consistent foot checks and referral to specialist teams is likely to be one of the reasons, as well as long-term blood glucose levels and foot care in GP practices.

Pete Shorrick, Diabetes UK’s Regional Manager for the Midlands, said: “It is worrying that the diabetes-related major amputation rate is high in certain parts of the county.

The high amputation rate is likely to be down to a number of complex factors.

Diabetes-related foot problems can deteriorate in a matter of hours, so not seeing a specialist team quickly can be the difference between keeping your foot and losing it.”