Patients in West Norfolk are being urged to look at their feet to help combat the effects of a growing health problem in the borough.
Officials at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital say 16 people in the area have had limbs amputated over the past four years because of complications caused by diabetes.
Around one in five of the hospital’s patients is being treated for the condition and 20 patients nationally are having limbs amputated because of it every day.
Now, staff at the Gayton Road site have launched a new campaign to encourage diabetics to check their feet daily so that potential problems can be spotted early.
The initiative, which coincides with World Diabetes Day today, includes a display of 20 empty shoes signifying the scale of the problem.
Diabetes damages the nerves and blood vessels that serve the limbs, which increases the risk of developing ulcers.
Eighty per cent of patients who have limbs amputated have had ulcers first.
Principal podiatrist Suzanna Grimes said: “Our amputation rates in West Norfolk are falling year-on-year but it is so important that people with diabetes attend their GP surgery for annual foot screening and check their feet every day – whether in hospital or not.
“More than 60,000 people with diabetes in England are thought to have foot ulcers at any time and the cost of diabetic foot disease to the NHS was £1 billion in 2014 and 2015.
“The risk of lower limb amputation is 20 times more likely for someone with diabetes than for people without the condition.
“That is why it is so important for people with diabetes to check their own feet daily or to ask someone else look them over. If people manage their diabetes well and take good care of their feet, most foot problems can be prevented.”
Ms Grimes said patients should contact a medical professional immediately if anything unusual is found during a daily check, such as new areas of redness or swelling, cuts or cracks to the skin or any new signs of weeping or discharge.
She added: “You should never ignore a problem with your feet, however minor you might think it is. Foot problems can develop really quickly and urgent assessment is vital to prevent more severe complications.”
Further information is available at www.diabetes.org.uk.