GPs soon to offer more diabetes care

Taranaki GPs will soon put their best foot forward for their diabetes patients.

Throughout the region, 50 GP practices are to offer a new podiatry care service for people with diabetes-related foot complications.

Untreated foot problems are a common cause of amputations for diabetics.

Midland Health Network chief executive John Macaskill-Smith said yesterday the same level of care had not been available in the past to everyone in Taranaki.

But the primary health organisation was excited that it would now be working with PodiatryNZ to offer a consistent service which they said would mean "any high-need diabetic regardless of where they live should be able to get access to the same level of care".

Two years ago, Taranaki diabetes services were criticised as being the most deficient in New Zealand for the 5000 people estimated to be living with the disease. That number was estimated to be growing by 5 per cent a year.

At the time, Paul Drury, the medical director for the New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes predicted the deficiencies within the region would lead to further complications including amputation, kidney failure, blindness, premature heart disease and stroke.

Yesterday, Mr Macaskill-Smith said the new joint programme would deliver more effective, integrated and timely care for people with diabetes.

"The worse the person's diabetes gets, the worse their feet get. Complications can quickly deteriorate because blood supply to the limb is compromised.

"It's really important that people with diabetes, in particular those at high risk, are managing their care, looking after their feet, and getting regular check-ups."

In the past there were plenty of dietary services for diabetics but a lack of podiatry, he said.

PodiatryNZ's Midland chairman, Andrew Jones, said the new venture was the first time his group had collaborated with a GP network.

It would mean the PHO would have more support, access to specialist education and more frequent updates and development opportunities in the long term.

There was good news for patients with long-term conditions. Similar consistent access to services would be available for cardio-vascular, pharmacy, dietetics and social work. "Podiatry is the first one off the rank."

Pharmacy would be next, as part of the changes in the national pharmacy contract, while social work and dietetics were due to start in mid-February next year.

The new diabetes care improvement package will replace the former diabetes Get Checked programme, and will be available in Taranaki and Waikato.

Midlands Health Network covers 97 per cent of the Taranaki population.

Taranaki Daily News