Assembly member Peter Weir has warned people not to ignore health symptoms after he had a toe amputated, following a diabetes diagnosis.
The MLA for Strangford said he had ignored early symptoms and encouraged people to take early action.
Speaking in the Assembly, Mr Weir told colleagues he had sought medical advice after a cut on his toe became infected.
He was admitted initially to the Ulster Hospital – where he was diagnosed with diabetes – before being moved to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he underwent surgery.
As a result he was temporarily confined to a wheelchair for six weeks.
Reflecting on his own role, he said there were some signs, in terms of potential symptoms, that he either ignored or put down to his age.
“I urge people to learn from my lesson. Make that early intervention, see your GP, see the Minor injuries Unit, get things dealt with at an early stage and there will be better consequences for you and the health service as a whole,” he said.
He also praised the care of staff at both hospitals and said if it hadn’t been for their skills the situation “could have been a lot worse”.
Mr Weir said he was trying to raise awareness of diabetes because “it can have serious consequences”.
“Be aware of the risks there are – get these things checked out because it could make the difference between going through a tough experience or trying to get early diagnosis and ultimately saving your life.”
Mr Weir’s treatment and care involved healthcare professionals at the Ulster and Royal Victoria Hospitals, who are part of the Network’s Foot Care Pathway, launched in November 2019, to improve services for adults living with diabetes.
It offers all adults with diabetes access to the same services no matter where they live in Northern Ireland. It consists of four steps, including annual foot care screening through to advanced foot disease care and treatment with a focus on the prevention of ulcers and amputations which will ultimately reduce hospital admissions.