The Celtic Tiger Continues in the Battle of Diabetic Foot Disease

January 20, 2011

Diabetes foot screening programme welcomed

[Posted: Tue 11/01/2011 by Deborah Condon – www.irishhealth.com]

A group which campaigns on behalf of people with diabetes has welcomed HSE plans to introduce a national diabetes foot care screening programme in 2011.

Just last September, Diabetes Action’s ‘Half the Services, Half the Care’ campaign drew attention to the high levels of foot ulcers and lower limb amputations being carried out among people with diabetes in Ireland, in an attempt to secure a foot screening programme for those with the condition.

“Between 2005 and 2009, 1,579 people with diabetes in Ireland underwent a below knee amputation and nearly 6,000 people with diabetes developed a foot ulcer requiring inpatient treatment – this cost the government an estimated €239 million,” explained Kieran O’Leary, CEO of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland.

He welcomed the HSE’s commitment of €1 million this year to develop a foot care screening programme and insisted that if this is properly implemented, it will ‘advance diabetes care greatly, improve the quality of life of patients and, in time, make huge financial saving for the Government’.

The ‘Half the Services, Half the Care’ campaign called for an initial 20 podiatrists to be employed to work with people with diabetes and provide a national foot care screening programme, arguing that the service would pay for itself on the basis of each podiatrist preventing just three inpatient foot ulcer treatments each year.

Commenting on the new programme, Dr Ronan Canavan, a consultant endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, said that this would mark a ‘major first step’ in reducing the current level of foot ulcers and lower limb amputations in this country ‘by up to 70%’.

“These occur largely because of a lack of early detection and timely intervention of foot problems. This is a very positive move towards developing a service that will impact on the lives of thousands of people with diabetes,” Dr Canavan said.

Meanwhile, Diabetes Action also welcomed HSE funding of €4 million to develop a national screening programme for diabetic retinopathy – an eye condition affecting the sight of one in three people with diabetes in Ireland.

“Diabetic retinopathy affects about 60,000 in Ireland, and we will be closely watching the implementation of both these programme,” the group said.

Diabetes Action is an advocacy group formed by representatives from the Diabetes Federation of Ireland, the diabetes section of the Irish Endocrine Society (IES) and the Irish Diabetes Nurse Specialist Association (IDNSA)

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