Diabetes amputation numbers hit record high

By Editor
30th August 2016
Charity, Good practice Latest news

The number of diabetes-related amputations in England has now reached an all-time high of 20 a day, an analysis of figures has shown.

Public Health England data suggests there are about 7,370 amputations a year, compared to the previous figure of 7,042, according to Diabetes UK.

Experts believe that four out of five amputations could be prevented as 80 per cent begin as foot ulcers, which are largely avoidable and far more treatable if found early.

The figures show that despite welcome action in some areas of the country on preventing diabetes -related amputations, the overall rate has stayed the same.

Life-changing problem

Diabetic foot disease remains the most common cause of hospital admission associated with the condition.

As I have no feeling at all in my lower legs it can be tough to even work out when I’m upright and properly balanced. I fall regularly and things that I used to do without thinking will take forever to accomplish

Diabetes UK said the figures also show major amputation rates, which are classed as amputations above the ankle, have decreased slightly since 2012 when its Putting Feet First campaign was launched.

The organisation also said the variation rates between the best and the worst performing areas continue to widen. Those areas more successful in tackling diabetes-related amputation continue to lower their rates, whereas the rate for the worst performing has not dropped in the last year.

Diabetes UK is calling on the Government and the NHS to do more to tackle the devastating and life-changing problem of diabetes-related amputation by improving diabetes footcare.

Chris Askew, chief executive of the organisation, said: “The fact that the total number of amputations is continuing to rise is a huge concern. We know the devastating impact they have on people’s lives as well as the huge cost to the NHS, yet we are not seeing action happening quickly enough across all areas of the country to address this.

‘Postcode lottery’

“We have seen some areas making real efforts to improve the poor state of diabetes footcare, but these figures are a stark reminder that there is still so much more to be done, especially with regard to significant variation from GP practices and between different health areas.

“It’s a travesty that good quality foot care is a postcode lottery. People need to be getting the right care in the right place at the right time now.”

Chris Brown, 64, from Bristol, has lost both legs below the knee due to his diabetes, the first in May 2009 and the second in December 2015. He now says even the most basic tasks can leave him struggling.

“As I have no feeling at all in my lower legs it can be tough to even work out when I’m upright and properly balanced. I fall regularly and things that I used to do without thinking will take forever to accomplish.

“I used to be a voracious reader but now I struggle to concentrate in the way I used to. I moved to a bungalow after my second amputation and while it does make my life significantly easier in many ways it also means I am seven miles away from town and it has made it harder for me to see friends and family. I don’t want anyone to underestimate how life-changing amputations are and how it will impact on your life in ways you can’t even imagine.”

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