Diabetes: More than 9,000 amputations a year in England caused by the diseaseTanaka Chitsa
Diabetes leads to more than 176 leg, toe or foot amputations every week in England, according to new analysis by the charity Diabetes UK.
Diabetes is the most common cause of lower limb amputations in the UK, with a someone living with the disease 20 times more likely to have an amputation than someone without the condition.
People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of developing problems in their feet because high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, affecting how blood flows to the feet and legs.
Unhealed ulcers and foot infections are the leading cause of diabetes-related amputations, with diabetic foot ulcers preceding more than 80 per cent of amputations.
From 2015 to 2018 there were 27,465 lower limb amputations related to diabetes in England, an increase of 18.3% on the 2011-2014 period.
The most significant rise was in minor lower limb amputations, defined as below the ankle, while major lower limb amputations – below the knee – showed a slower, but gradual increase.
Diabetes UK said part of the increase in amputations was due to a lack of an integrated approach by many hospitals involving podiatrists, physicians and nurses, with just 1 in 6 hospitals having such multidisciplinary specialist foot care teams.
And it highlighted the cost for the health service with at least £1 in every £140 of NHS spending going towards foot care for people with diabetes.
Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: “Ensuring that multidisciplinary specialist foot care teams are in every single hospital across the country will not only significantly improve outcomes for people with diabetes, it will also cut down on long-term costs to the NHS.
“The differences in the standard of treatment between areas is unacceptable. An amputation, regardless of whether it’s defined as minor or major, is devastating and life-changing.
A ‘minor’ amputation can still involve losing a whole foot. Especially as many diabetes amputations are avoidable through better quality care – we have to do better.
“To stop this upward trend in amputations, we are urging NHS England to stay true to their commitments and ensure people with diabetes have access to the specialist care and support they need.”
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