‘Passion and friendship’ is the magic formula

Medical Director, Dr Jim GardnerI was both delighted and proud at last week’s meeting of the Trust Board when colleagues and advanced podiatrists Lesley Russell and Deborah Wilford attended and delivered a presentation entitled ‘celebrating brilliance’.

Very often as a Trust Board it must be said that we focus on the things that need improving or highlighting as a challenge or concern to be fixed. This is to be expected as we continue our journey of improvement and establishing clinical excellence as part of that.

But there is nothing more inspiring than talking about what has also gone well and we just don’t ‘celebrate brilliance’ often enough.

Following Lesley and Deborah’s session I think it’s something we’ll encourage others to do.

They talked about how they had worked together with other colleagues from across the Trust and wider health and social care system to reduce the number of amputations involving patients with Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM).

This was a huge issue in Blackpool and the Fylde Coast, as in many other areas of the UK, as Type 2 Diabetes is common, and complications of poorly managed disease include damage to blood vessels and nerves in the extremities, the lower limbs especially.

To give a sense of scale, Deborah and Lesley advised us that:

  • Back in 2015 there were around 70,000 lower limb amputations carried out for people with diabetes each year across England and Wales.
  • That’s about 176 people a week losing a leg – which is 24 a day or one every hour
  • People with T2DM diabetes are about 30 times more likely to lose a limb than other people
  • Shockingly, about 80 per cent of the amputations could be avoided with better management

In 2014-2015, the trajectory for patients with T2DM was grim, with many more amputations forecast.

In Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre the prognosis was even worse, and we were in the top 12 nationally for the number of people experiencing an amputation connected with T2DM. Between 2013 and 2016, 285 people had sadly lost a lower limb.

Thankfully, colleagues within the Trust decided to do something about it and the results are inspirational and a real testament to everyone in the team.

In 2020, there was just one lower limb amputation and that was the first in 14 months, proactively requested by a patient who was unable to walk.

That is incredible, isn’t it?

They did this through teamwork, understanding the issues and proactive management across all elements of the patient pathway.

I am incredibly proud of them and the Board were completely blown away by the success of their approach, their hard work and dedication. Deborah and Lesley were asked: “What’s the secret to this?” and more than one colleague was interested in the magical formula they had unlocked to achieve such astounding results.

Their answer was both simple and powerful: “Passion and friendship” they replied, exchanging knowing looks, event on Microsoft Teams.

“We’re not just part of the team,” they added. “We are the team. We’re all on first names terms and no one is ever seen as less than the consultants or any of the members of the team. We all go above and beyond to support each other and our patients in the community. We’re so lucky to be part of it.”

I found it hugely uplifting and I wanted to share it to inspire others across the Trust.

I know it is very pressured at the moment as we continue to battle Covid, to manage unprecedented demand in our urgent and emergency pathways and restore our services, reducing very large waiting lists for local people who need our care.

I know colleagues are tired and morale sometimes dips.

But this story demonstrates that every little thing we do can make a huge difference not only to patients and their families but to each other. The way you support colleagues is undoubtedly the ‘magic formula’ that will make this Trust great and ensure our patients receive the very best, quality care.

I want to say a huge thank you to Lesley and Deborah and to the entire team. They have taught us a valuable lesson and they have delivered an amazing achievement to boot.

Thank you so much for everything you do.

Take care,


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