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Diabetes increases risk of foot amputation 20 fold

Diabetes UK launches campaign to tackle ‘national disgrace’ of thousands of preventable foot amputations

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 07 March 2012

Diabetes UK is calling for patients with diabetes to get a thorough annual foot check and for foot ulcers in people with the condition to be referred to specialist diabetes foot care teams within 24 hours.

The proposals form part of a campaign which the charity launched today to bring an end to the “national disgrace” of thousands of preventable amputations in people with diabetes.

People with diabetes are more than 20 times more likely to have lower limp amputations and around 80 per cent of the 6,000 diabetes-related amputations in England every year are preventable.

By demanding an end to the postcode lottery of NHS foot care, the Putting Feet First campaign aims to reduce diabetes-related amputations by 50 per cent within five years.

A study presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2012 in Glasgow today conference suggests that an unacceptably high number of hospitals are failing to comply with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on when to refer patients to specialist foot care.

Meanwhile, a separate study at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, has found that less than half of patients admitted with emergency diabetes-related foot problems had the blood supply to their feet assessed and just over a quarter were assessed for nerve damage.

Diabetes UK wants to see patients with diabetes get a thorough annual foot check and for foot ulcers in people with the condition to have to be referred to specialist diabetes foot care teams within 24 hours.

Barbara Young, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “A single preventable amputation is one too many and so the fact that thousands of people in the UK are enduring unnecessary foot amputations is nothing short of a national disgrace.

“There are large parts of the country where diabetes foot care is not good enough and the two studies presented at our conference today highlight yet more examples of people not getting the care they deserve. Quality of care makes a big difference to amputation rates. Foot ulcers can deteriorate in a matter of hours so failing to refer someone quickly enough can literally be the difference between losing a foot and keeping it.”

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