Patients with high risk foot problems have continued to get the care they need during the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to a dedicated health team.
The diabetic foot team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have maintained the same high quality level of care over the last few weeks.
This is despite challenges they have had to overcome around social distancing and self-isolation and a reduced patient transport service.
The team have continued to run all patient appointments face-to-face – either in a hospital setting or visiting patients at home – due to their specific clinical needs.
The team has been led by orthopaedic consultant Paul Mackenney and associate specialist and diabetes lead Seema Ijaz. Who have been proactive in ensuring patients get the very best care during a challenging period.
Claire O’Malley, highly specialised podiatrist, said: “Due to the high risk and complex health needs of our caseload, our patients are seen a minimum of once a week. This has not changed. Throughout this pandemic we have delivered a seamless service with easy access for our patients. Any that have been shielding have been seen at home by members of our team who have visited them.
“It is always safer to see the patient in person and isn’t appropriate for our patients to have virtual appointments. We need to physically see the foot, check the temperature and assess it to have a clear idea how the patient is doing.
“The hospital ward rounds have also been able to run to full capacity. This has ensured patients still receive the excellent care they deserve. To help prevent hospital admission for acute infections and amputations.
“Not only have all our outpatient clinics across both sites been running. The podiatry team have had to overcome further challenges with patient transport running a reduced service.
“The community podiatry team have also become more actively involved with the management of our high risk patient with diabetic foot ulcers. Due to an increased home-based caseload and ward visits.
“The morale in the team is high as we all have the common goal of delivering excellent patient care. We are delighted that, due to dedication of the team and support of management, we are continuing to do so.”
All patients have been seen by a podiatrist and consultant when appropriate for treatment including sharp debridement, offloading and re-dressing of ulcers.
“They are real NHS heroes!”
Martin Bunning, 46, who lives in Billingham, has continued to get the care he needs over the last few months.
Martin, a sales assistant, has had type 1 diabetes for a number of years.
He first came to the service for treatment in March for an infection to his foot – sadly, this was so severe that he had to have one of his toes amputated.
He said: “Right from the moment I had my first appointment I felt calm and reassured by the team.
“I was told the infection (osteomyelitis) had gone into the bone and I could lose the foot. After I had had an MRI scan, I was told that having the toe amputated could save the foot. Thankfully that has been the case.
“The doctors and all of the staff were so empathetic – it really was phenomenal.
“The team always explained everything to me and helped settle any concerns I had and put me at ease.
“They have always been there for advice and support and I have always felt safe coming into hospital throughout the whole pandemic. I have even been told off for walking on the foot when I shouldn’t have been!
“They are real NHS heroes!”