The successful treatment of chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) is often highly dependent upon the quality of the dressings available to clinicians. Practical Patient Care talks to John Singleton, a supply business analyst at Systagenix, an Acelity company, about the reality of living with DFU and how he came to work for the very company that made many of the products that brought him back to health.

Could you describe to us what it was like living day-to-day with a diabetic foot ulcer?

John Singleton: The manner in which I was treated in the hospital had a huge impact on my life. I went from having a fairly active life, free to be involved in whatever took my fancy, to being widely regarded as ‘disabled’. I had one, and sometimes two, legs in plaster, and often had to borrow a wheelchair from the Red Cross. Furthermore, I had to attend consultations at my local hospital three times a week to change my wound dressing.

My life outside of treatment was also impeded in a huge way. I certainly couldn’t drive, which caused issues at my old workplace, notwithstanding my employers’ ostensible commitment to diversity among its employees. I also found it very difficult to go out to social events. Having a drink at a pub whilst on crutches is a real recipe for further injury! All in all, I felt very frustrated. My freedom had been taken away.

What dressings developed by Systagenix helped to manage the wound and aid in the healing process?

Initially, I was treated with a dressing on the wound and a plaster cast put over it on my leg. This treatment continued, with no success, for two to three years.

I moved to a new area under a different Primary Care Trust that had a totally different view on the best treatment for the ulcer. They operated within a couple of days and used a variety of products to heal the wound. Hospital staff used the VAC (vacuum-assisted closure) therapy system as part of my wound treatment. After a few days, they then packed my wound with Systagenix’s Inadine povidone iodine non adherent dressing, and also products in the Silvercel dressings family. These dressings were changed on a daily basis. At the time, I knew the names of the dressings but didn’t pay attention to their manufacturer.

Now that your wound has healed, partly through the use of products conceived and manufactured by Systagenix, how has your quality of life improved?

During the three-year period in which I had a foot ulcer, my employer made me redundant. While in the care of local community health workers, I was not able to work. A couple of weeks after being given the all-clear, I entered my current profession – supply-chain management – for a new company.

Out of the blue, I got a call from a recruitment consultant enquiring whether I was available for a six-month fixed-term contract at a site 70 miles from my home. It was not the best sell I had ever received, until he mentioned that the company was Systagenix Wound Management.

I remembered that they had been the manufacturers of the Silvercel and Inadine dressings, and the VAC therapy system, so I knew straight away that I had to attend the interview. It was my belief that if I ever had the opportunity to work for the company whose products had, with the help of very skilled NHS staff, saved my foot and restored my quality of life, it was one that I had to seize.

I was successful in getting the job, albeit working at a much lower level than I had previously worked. Nevertheless, it was worth it just to get in the door. I have been successful in converting my temporary contract into a permanent one, and now I want to help the company by using whatever skills I have to drive great availability of our products.