Legs in lockdown: nurses revolutionise lower limb care and transform patient outcomes

Remote triage for foot and leg care means clinical nurse specialists can intervene earlier

Picture: John Houlihan

Lockdown has enabled nurses to redesign services and deliver care differently for leg and foot patients, leading to improvements in care.

Campaign group Legs Matter, said waiting times to see clinical nurse specialists for people with serious leg and foot conditions have fallen from eight weeks to five days.

Service redesign was long overdue – now it has accelerated

Legs Matter chair Leanne Atkin, a vascular nurse consultant, said closer working with general practice and others had accelerated long-overdue redesign of services and estimates 500,000 patients have been supported to self-care.

'It used to take up to eight weeks from when someone visited their GP surgery to when they got an outpatient appointment with a specialist nurse, but that is now down to just five days,’ she said.

'Patients who needed a vascular assessment now go through a triage system and can be seen in just an hour.'

Problems are being picked up earlier

Dr Atkin added that closer collaboration with other healthcare teams, including podiatrists and GP practice staff, meant potentially life-changing problems were picked up and treated earlier, resulting in less suffering, disability and even preventing premature death. 

Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust wound clinical nurse specialist, and member of Legs Matter, Kate Williams, said her service will not return to seeing all patients face-to-face, instead triaging referrals remotely.

'This new way of working means more patients can be assessed and treated, drastically cutting waiting times,’ she said.

'We are also trialling remote video consultations – something we have talked about for years, but the pandemic has pushed these changes through much more quickly.'

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