Within the UK, there are national strategic foot groups for diabetes within Scotland (Scottish Foot Action Group) Northern Ireland (Faculty of Management Northern Ireland Group) and Wales (All Wales Diabetes Foot Network). These groups provide a national focus for the work around diabetic foot disease, sharing best practice and potentially reducing duplication.

In England, the development of sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and the bids for NHS England Diabetes Fund for multidisciplinary diabetes footcare team (MDFT) transformation with its focus on foot disease has led to development of innovations in practice and new ways of working. However, there was no robust mechanism for sharing these new ways of working across England and the wider UK. Consequently, developments and duplication of work have occurred at regional level among the 12 NHS England clinical networks, without their benefit being felt more widely. Therefore, a scoping exercise was carried out by The Royal College of Podiatry and Diabetes UK, and a wish for a national network was identified.

Following this, a group of interested diabetes foot champions (Paul Chadwick, Mike Edmonds, Alistair McInnes, Richard Leigh and Christian Pankhurst) developed a steering group to establish a network across England. Funding was secured from an unrestricted educational grant from the URGO foundation. The aim of the steering group was to develop an English-wide network to provide a focus for strategic developments, share best practice and advise relevant stakeholders, for example the Department of Health, NHS England, NHS Innovation, Strategic Clinical Networks and Diabetes UK, on all matters relating to service delivery and improvements in England for diabetes-related foot disease. The network then feeds into the national programme and supports Foot in Diabetes UK in its wider UK role. The network is currently a coalition of the 12 local Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs), relevant multidisciplinary health professionals and academics led by podiatrists under the banner of The Royal College of Podiatry.

A first meeting was held in London at The Royal College of Podiatry in March 2019. There were representatives from nine of the 12 SCNs and other attendees included representatives from Foot in Diabetes UK, Association of British Diabetologists and academic institutions.

The meeting was dedicated to the sharing of individual SCNs workstreams, their metrics and the sharing of good practice and learning. From this, common themes emerged in areas in which the group could develop a shared strategy. These themes included data (what is collected, how it is collated and how it is used), education of staff and patients, and issues related to the recent vascular reconfiguration and ‘workforce’, with a particular focus on the impending acute shortage of podiatrists. Discussions on these issues were fed back to the wider network.

Inaugural meeting of the English Diabetic Foot Network at the College of Podiatry, London, March 2019