A stick in time saves nine – says Clune

THE HSE spent €239m treating food diseases in people with diabetes that could have been prevented if a screening services had been established according to the new diabetes advocacy group, Diabetes Action.

The group, who recently launched their campaign ‘Half the Service, Half the Care’ have highlighted that the HSE could have saved over €200m, and avoided thousands of limb amputations, if they had invested in local services to detect treatable foot diseases in diabetic patients.

The HSE South are recorded to have spent €75m “treating approximately 2478 patients with diabetes for inpatient diabetic foot disease”. €23.3m of this was spent in Cork.

The group are calling for the establishment of a local screening service as part of a National Foot Screening Programme to avoid the expensive and devastating complications needlessly developed by the lack of local services.

In a letter to Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael TD for Cork South Central, the HSE confirmed that “a specific group was established to focus on the key objectives of the national plan in Cork and Kerry” and a further two sub-groups were set up “to focus on the key objectives of the national plan”. Further more another sub-committee “was convened to examine foot are services in the area”. The report for the sub committee is due to be presented to the HSE in the coming weeks.

While welcoming the establishment of the National Diabetes Programme, Deputy Clune has expressed concern over the number of subgroups set up on an ongoing basis to deal with the matter. She has stressed that she hopes that the final report in the coming weeks will fully address the concerns of patients.

“I appreciate that priority is given to clinical appointments which include infection, ulceration and gangrene cases, however structures need to be put in place quickly to allow patients in the early stages of diabetes routine check ups. It is not acceptable that some patients have to wait months to get an appointment when it could be too late for the disease and could cost the patient a limb.”

“This issue is of grave concern to the Irish people, 5% of whom have diabetes, so it is a matter that needs to be given priority attention. A local screening programme as part of the National Programme, would reassure patients and significantly reduce the trauma which patients who suffer from diabetic complications have to live with for the rest of their lives. It could also save the state thousands on their medical bills.”

The group argue that diabetic foot disease can be reduced by over 50% with foot screening and an annual check up for all diabetics.

“The HSE’s estimated cost of employing one hospital or community podiatrist to work locally to prevent diabetic foot disease and to run a screening programme is €65,000-€80,000 per annum. A modest investment of just €1.56 million per annum (the HSE’s estimated cost of employing 20 podiatrists for diabetes) could provide a nationwide service and significantly reduce the current costs.”

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