A nurse consultant is heading up a new campaign to help ensure people with leg and foot conditions get the help they need before the problem escalates.
Dr Leanne Atkin has joined forces with an army of fellow lower limb clinicians to form the Legs Matter coalition, which is backed by NHS England.
This week they are hosting the very first national Legs Matter Awareness Week to help address what they described as one of the UK’s biggest health challenges.
“These conditions are often overlooked by patients, carers and clinicians”
Dr Leanne Atkin
As part of the campaign, Dr Atkin, chair of Legs Matter, is urging people to check their legs and feet for 10 possible problems including swollen, tender legs or sores that won’t heal.
The coalition has produced an online checklist for people, including healthcare professionals, to recognise the signs and symptoms of lower leg and foot problems.
According to Legs Matter, which is led by the Tissue Viability Society, each year more than a million people in the UK are thought to suffer from serious leg and foot conditions.
Costing the NHS up to £5.3bn annually, leg and foot ulcers, oedema, narrowing of the arteries and other serious problems need to be treated quickly and correctly to reduce the risk of non-healing wounds, secondary health problems and deteriorating health, it noted.
During the awareness week, group members and their supporters are holding a series of nationwide events for both the public and health professionals, including working alongside homeless organisations in London, holding the first Legs Matter conferences in Oxford and Newcastle and raising the issue with world-leading vascular experts.
”We are passionate about changing this”
Dr Leanne Atkin
Dr Atkin, who is a vascular nurse consultant from Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, said: “There are more than a million people suffering with lower leg and feet disorders - many of which are life changing.
“These conditions are often overlooked by patients, carers and clinicians,” she added. ”We are passionate about changing this.
“We want people to check their own and others’ legs and feet and to speak to a pharmacist, nurse, podiatrist or GP if they are concerned,” said Dr Atkin. “Getting early treatment makes all the difference and prevents the condition becoming more serious.”
Legs Matter is made up of leading clinicians from the Tissue Viability Society, the British Lymphology Society, Accelerate CIC, the College of Podiatry, The Society of Vascular Nurses, the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation, Foot in Diabetes UK and The Leg Ulcer Forum.