More than 9,000 amputations carried out in the UK per year

Diabetes-related lower limb amputations have increased by over 18% across England, according to new figures.

Data released by Diabetes UK showed there were 27,465 amputations from 2015–2018, which has gone up compared to 2011–2014.

The numbers equate to more than 176 leg, toe or foot amputations being carried out on a weekly basis in the country. The most significant rise appeared to be in the prevalence of below-the-ankle amputations.

The charity said it thinks the significant rise in diabetes-related amputations is because there is a lack of specialist foot care teams, made up of podiatrists, physicians and nurses, within hospitals.

People with diabetes are susceptible to foot problems. This can occur as a result of high blood sugar levels damaging the blood vessels and affecting blood flow.

Foot ulcers can develop from blisters and small wounds, and if left untreated can lead to amputation which is why those with diabetes should take action as soon as they spot any changes to their feet.

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.”

To reduce the chances of suffering from foot complications it is recommended that all people who have diabetes regularly check their feet and attend annual foot check-ups as part of their regular care routine.

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