Diabetes-related amputations in England at an all-time high of over 7000 per year

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Diabetes UK has revealed through an analysis of data from Public Health England that diabetes-related amputations in England have reached an all-time high of over 7,000 per year with over 135 amputations being carried out every week.

The number of amputations per year stood at 6,677 previously and the latest numbers mark an increase of seven more amputations per week. Despite this increase, Diabetes UK suggests that with good diabetes and footcare, up to 80 per cent of these amputations can be avoided.

The government has been actively trying to prevent amputations in collaboration with non-profit organisations and charities through policy roll outs, but despite these measures, the amputation rate for major and minor amputations combined in people with diabetes has stayed the same. One of the reasons behind increase in the amputation rate, according to Diabetes UK, is increase in the number of people with diabetes in the past 20 years.

There is, though, some positive news in that the major amputation rate (classed as amputations above the ankle) has decreased slightly since Diabetes UK launched the Putting Feet First campaign in 2012.

Diabetes UK is urging the Government and the NHS to take more actions and tackle the problem of diabetes-related amputation head-on by improving diabetes footcare. The charity suggests that these measures should ensure that everyone with diabetes gets good quality annual foot checks and that anyone who has a foot problem gets the right care to prevent or treat it.

It is particularly important that if anyone with diabetes has a foot infection they get urgent attention from a team of specialists.

To highlight the human tragedy behind these statistics, Diabetes UK is displaying 135 shoes to represent the number of diabetes-related amputations a week. They have been donated from people who have had an amputation, supporters and celebrities and each has a personal message attached to it.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The fact that the total number of amputations is continuing to rise is a huge concern because we know the devastating impact they have on people’s lives. As well as the psychological impact, they also cost lives as most people die within five years of having one.

“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. For example, not enough people are receiving their annual foot check and those who do often tell us their check was not very thorough. This means they don’t understand their risk of amputation, how to look after their feet or the urgency of getting help if their foot deteriorates.

“We need urgent action to address this, and with the shoes on display today we want to send a powerful message about the scale of this issue. The vast majority of these amputations are not inevitable and we need people to show us they care about what is happening and take action to help us help many more people avoid the trauma of amputation. That’s why we’re asking people to tweet the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, about this using #135shoes. For more information on this and other ways to get involved visit our Putting Feet First campaign webpage.”