A DIABETIC foot team at East Lancashire Hospitals has been credited with giving Blackburn with Darwen the lowest level of diabetes-related limb amputation in the UK.

Kath Eccles, Gill Lomax and Carl Kenwright help hundreds of diabetic people stay on their feet.

Diabetes can cause severe problems with the blood vessels in the feet, meaning many patients experience numbness, swelling and severe ulcers as a result of the lack of blood flow.

When these ulcers appear, they are very difficult to get rid of, and can develop into infections so severe that the patient’s leg has to be amputated.

Diabetic feet affect mainly older people, and studies show that the loss of a leg in later life is so devastating that a huge proportion of patients die less than three years after amputation.

Many of Gill and Kath’s patients credit them with saving not just their legs, but their lives.

David Innes, 62, from Hoddlesden, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which later developed into Type 1 diabetes, 10 years ago.

He weighed around 23 stone and needed three injections of 300mg of insulin a day.

But with the help of diabetic specialists at Royal Blackburn Hospital and work on exercise and healthy eating he has got his weight down to 16 stone and his daily insulin intake down to 60mg, taken in two daily doses.

He said: “We've probably got the best diabetes unit in the country, if not the world.

“I cannot speak highly enough of them. They have probably saved my life on at least two occasions.”

The team has developed the 'Blackburn boot', a plastic, padded covering used to protect ulcerated feet and prevent further damage, which is now used throughout the UK, and worn by David to manage his problems with foot ulcers and septicaemia.

He said: “I'm back in the Blackburn boot at the moment, because I have a blister on my big toe which they are concerned about.

“It takes the pressure away from my toe. It's being treated and they think it will heal up again.”