Record high amputations emphasises importance of diabetes foot care

A record 169 people per week are undergoing diabetes-related amputations, according to a new Diabetes UK study.
The charity’s findings has emphasised the importance of regular foot checks for people with diabetes, and the need to look out for and act early on any signs of foot problems.
Diabetes UK’s analysis revealed that 26,378 people had diabetes-related lower limb amputations in 2014-2017, a 19.4% rise compared to 2010-2013.
The data works out that 169 people a week are undergoing largely-preventable amputations because of diabetes. Diabetes is a leading cause of lower limb amputations because long-term high blood glucose levels can lead to damage to blood vessels and blood circulation. Loss of nerve sensation is another factor because damage may occur to the feet without someone being aware until the damage has progressed to a dangerous stage.
The risk of someone with diabetes having an amputation is 20 times greater compared to a person who does not have diabetes, but amputations and poor foot health can be prevented.
If you have diabetes, your health team should check your feet at least once per year. However, it is important that you check your feet each day for any signs of damage because problems can develop quickly. If you find it difficult to check your own feet, a mirror can help or ask someone to check your feet for you. Report any signs of a foot problem to your doctor immediately to minimise the risk of amputations occurring.
“The chance of someone with diabetes having a major amputation is actually going down, with far lower amputation rates than in countries such as Germany,” said Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England.
“But, as the absolute number of people with diabetes goes up, the number of people at risk of amputations goes up too.”
Diabetes UK also called on NHS England to continue its Diabetes Transformation Fund beyond 2019. Since 2017 more than £80 million has been invested by the fund across England to improve care, including access to specialist foot care teams.