Screening call as 1,500 diabetes sufferers lose limbs 'needlessly'
Surgeon claims radical surgeries may have been avoided with better services
MORE than 1,500 people with diabetes have had lower limb amputations in recent years, new figures reveal.
And a leading surgeon last night said this radical surgery may have been preventable.
Dr Ronan Canavan, a consultant endocrinologist at St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, said a lack of services to treat foot complications, which diabetes patients are prone to, was leading to needless lower limb amputations.
"As a result of undiagnosed and poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes, people are needlessly developing foot complications like ulcers, which too often lead to lower-limb amputations.
"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 in-patient treatment," he added.
Mr Canavan was speaking at the launch of a campaign by Diabetes Action, a new advocacy group that is calling for a national strategy to improve services for growing numbers of people with the condition.
Ireland has the lowest level of foot specialists, known as podiatrists, in Europe.
Mr Canavan said this left patients with poorly controlled diabetes uniquely vulnerable to developing preventable foot complications.
"There is no system in place to identify or track at-risk people to ensure preventative measures are taken," he added.
Diabetes Action is calling for 20 more podiatrists nationally to work with people with diabetes and provide yearly check-ups to detect foot complications before they become serious.
"The service would pay for itself," Mr Canavan insisted.
Diabetes Action estimates the HSE is spending €239m on treating diabetic patients in hospital. It estimates the screening drive would cost €1.56m.
An annual check-up for people with Type 2 diabetes could reduce the cost of treating diabetic foot conditions by as much as 50pc and potentially save the HSE €115m over five years, the organisation argues.
The group hope their campaign -- 'Half the Services, Half the Care' -- will bring about a change in health policy. It has also launched a website at diabetesaction.ie.
Meanwhile, scientists at Trinity College have discovered that a hormone known as IAPP -- which gets deposited in the pancreas -- may trigger Type 2 diabetes. Their findings were published yesterday in science journal 'Nature Immunology'.