Over a third of those with diabetes in Wales have no access to feet specialists which could help prevent them losing a limb.
Diabetics are 25 times more likely to lose a leg than people without the disease.
But despite the alarming statistics and the fact that 85% of all diabetes-related amputations can be prevented, awareness about foot care remains low among Welsh patients and health professionals.
Experts want patients to be better educated about the risk of foot ulcers – one of the complications of diabetes – and for health professionals to examine patients’ feet regularly.
The calls come on World Diabetes Day which is, this year, dedicated to improving foot care because every 30 seconds somewhere in the world, a leg is lost to diabetes.
Professor Tricia Price, research director of the Wound Healing Research Unit, in Cardiff, said, “These feet problems are serious – other aspects of diabetic complications have received more awareness, so people do not realise the extent of suffering that goes on.”
Dr Eva-Lisa Heinrichs, a clinical research fellow at the Wound Healing Research Unit, added, “Diabetic foot is one of the most costly conditions and has a massive impact on a patient’s quality of life and yet it is a preventable condition.
“Everyone who comes into contact with a patient with diabetes should be checking their feet for signs of problems.”
Raised blood glucose levels are associated with long-term damage to the body and the failure of various organs and tissues.
People with diabetes are at an increased risk of nerve damage and problems with the blood supply to their feet.
Nerve damage reduces a person’s ability to feel pain and injuries to the feet often go unnoticed and because diabetes reduces blood supply to the feet, wounds can take a long time to heal. Foot ulcers are a common complication of diabetes and if they become infected and are not spotted can lead to amputation.