Sarah Wilson, Advanced Podiatrist, has used her interest in the human foot to help some of the Bay’s most vulnerable patients to get better.
Sarah works closely with people who suffer from diabetic or vascular foot ulcers, using a holistic approach (supporting the whole person including physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing) to develop a treatment plan with them with the ultimate goal of healing their wounds.
She works with a team of seven other Podiatrists who cover the Furness area (Barrow, Dalton and Millom). Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the team would run outpatient clinics at Furness General Hospital (FGH), in the community at the Alfred Barrow Health Centre and visit patients in their homes. Each Podiatrist sees approximately 3,500 patients every year and has a unique role which allows them to assess, diagnose, treat (including prescribing) and discharge patients.
“I find the human body fascinating but the foot is just so complex. I think it’s amazing,” Sarah said.
“Originally I wanted to be a Physiotherapist but when I was picking my university course Physiotherapy was in quite high demand. I started to look into Podiatry and I fell in love with it.
“Our approach is more holistic. A lot of my patients are diabetic so I would look at what their diabetic control is like, whether they need some foot screening, what their lifestyle is like and how it is impacting on the wound. As well as working closely with the patient to find out their expectations, we work closely with the diabetic and vascular teams at FGH to come up with a treatment plan that is right for the patient – the ultimate goal is always to heal the wound.”
During the pandemic, the team has offered a telephone advice service to help high-risk patients to manage infection in their wounds and reduce the need for them to come into hospital. They have worked closely with District Nurses to take on some of the District Nursing team’s wound care which reduces the amount of staff going into a patient’s home and the amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed.
Sarah and the Trust’s Tissue Viability Nurse have also used Microsoft 365 and its Teams function to liaise with the Tissue Viability Nurse at a local care home to develop shared care plans for residents.
Sarah added: “The service has continued to operate as normal throughout the pandemic apart from us working from different locations. We moved all of our high-risk services to the Alfred Barrow Health Centre because the majority of our patients were in high-risk categories for catching coronavirus. We have got really good links with the diabetic team and the vascular team at FGH who have been fantastic. If they came across a patient on the wards who needed our input they would liaise with us and we would go up and visit that patient on the ward.”
Sarah added: “Podiatry is such an interesting job and I would encourage anyone who is interested in a career in the NHS to go for it. There are so many different opportunities in Podiatry and specialties including wound care, paediatrics and biomechanics.
“I do love my job. I find it fascinating and I love working with people. There is a lot of job satisfaction in Podiatry – you see patients in quite a lot of pain with substantial wounds but being able to follow the patient’s treatment all the way through until the end where the wound is healing and see them more comfortable and happy – that’s why I’m a Podiatrist.”
The NHS celebrates its 72nd birthday on Sunday 5 July. To mark this huge milestone, UHMBT is showcasing stories from staff across the Trust to celebrate how inclusive and diverse the NHS is as an organisation.