Recruitment of specialists will reduce amputations

University Hospital Galway

The recruitment of additional foot disorder specialists will hopefully stem an alarming increase in the number of Galway people with diabetes needing hospital treatment – including amputation – for serious foot problems, according to Independent TD Noel Grealish.

The Galway West Deputy welcomed confirmation by the HSE in a letter to him that three additional podiatrists will be recruited in the Galway, Mayo and Roscommon area by the end of the year.

“This additional funding, which the HSE tell me will reduce waiting times for the service to acceptable levels, is absolutely vital to the health of people with diabetes in particular, who are especially prone to problems with their feet,” he said.

Deputy Grealish said that there had been an alarming increase in the number of people in Galway with diabetes who were hospitalised last year, needing in-patient treatment for foot disease.

“According to Diabetes Ireland, Galway had one of the biggest year-on-year increases in the number of people receiving treatment last year for diabetic foot ulceration.

“The total number was 113, which was an astounding 54 up on the total figure for the previous year. That’s almost double the number of people treated in 2015.

“Even more worrying was the fact that a further 22 people with diabetes had to undergo lower limb amputation, an increase of five on the previous year.”

Deputy Grealish said that a serious shortage of podiatrists had led to a backlog of patients waiting to be seen and treated, not just in the Galway area but elsewhere in the country too.

He pointed out that the most common cause of hospitalisation among patients with diabetes was diabetic foot disease — and the risk of amputation in a patient with diabetes was 20 to 40 times higher than in a non-diabetic patient.

“You are talking about life-changing consequences of any delay in being seen by a podiatrist that could result in these people not getting the treatment they need in time.”

Deputy Grealish raised the issue in a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Health.

“Further to my raising it in a Dáil question, the HSE has written to me to confirm that  three additional podiatrists will be recruited in the region between now and the end of the year.

“The letter said it was envisaged that this would reduce waiting times for the service to ‘acceptable levels’,” Deputy Grealish added.