Specialist health team help Tom, 84, back on his feet

An elderly man is now back up on his feet within a matter of months thanks to a specialist health team.

Tom in front of house with podiatrist Melanie.Tom Hitchen, who is 84, was suffering pains in his foot – but is now fully mobile after being treated by staff at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Tom was having pains from a serious ulcer on his right foot – over time these worsened and he was referred to the Trust who recommended surgery after treatment to allow it to heal was only partly successful.

Bone was still exposed on Tom’s foot, so orthopaedic surgeon Paul Mackenney recommended amputating the small toe – surgery which was a success.

Since then, members of the highly specialised podiatry team have visited Tom in his home in Norton twice a week to dress the wound.

He has also had regular visits to the University Hospital of North Tees to see Mr Mackenney as well as specialists from the orthotics team who fitted him with orthopaedic shoes.

Melanie Cooley, one of the Trust’s specialist podiatrists, said: “Tom has made a fantastic recovery – during what has been a challenging period during the pandemic when many patients were understandably nervous about coming in to hospital for treatment.

“He is an example of someone who has gone from diagnosis to full recovery and being fitted with footwear in just a matter of months.

“That is thanks to his commitment to recovery as well as the help he has had from a range of specialists at the Trust.

“We always advise people to check their feet regularly so that issues are raised before they worsen. But if people do get to that stage, our team is here to do all we can to ensure they are back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Tom, who is a grandfather-of-one, added: “I used to walk around in stockings and they started to make my foot itch. It started to worsen to the point where it was very painful.

“Once I got referred to the team, they put me on antibiotics and I did everything asked of me – the foot was improving but the bone was exposed and it was never going to fully heal without surgery.

“Thankfully, Mr Mackenney and the team did an extremely professional job treating the area and I am now at the point where I am back on my feet and able to do more, walking around and getting out into the garden.

“I am so grateful to all of the team for everything they have done.”


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