Leading health charity Diabetes UK is bringing together 100 people, including 20 diabetes amputees, at 11am on Tuesday 16 June at the ‘Body Worlds and Mirror of Time’ exhibition¹ at London’s O2 Arena for a photo call to highlight the fact that diabetes causes 100 amputations a week in the UK².Tuesday, 09, Jun 2009 12:00
The charity is calling on hospitals and primary care organisations to adopt the recommendations set out in a new Diabetes UK/NHS Diabetes report, ‘Putting Feet First’. The report calls for primary care organisations to work with hospitals and community services to ensure people with diabetes have their feet examined at least once a year, to be told if their feet are ‘At Risk’, and what to do to reduce the risk of infection. The report also calls for people with diabetes admitted to hospital for any reason to have their feet examined, and protected, and if they develop any foot problems to have it assessed by a doctor, nurse or podiatrist within 24 hours.
Diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputation in the world and around 5,000 people with diabetes undergo leg, foot or toe amputations each year in the UK, equivalent to 100 a week. One in three people with diabetes do not realise that having the condition puts them more at risk of having an amputation.³ Up to 20 per cent (£600m) of the £3bn the NHS spends on diabetes each year goes on treating foot problems in people with diabetes, and at least £252m of this is spent on amputation.4
People with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at risk of damage to the nerves (neuropathy) and blood supply (ischaemia) to their feet. Both neuropathy and ischaemia can lead to foot ulcers and slow-healing wounds which, if they become infected, can result in amputation. However, researchers estimate that between 49 per cent and 85 per cent of all diabetic amputations can be prevented.5 By keeping blood glucose, blood cholesterol and blood pressure under control people with diabetes can help to prevent complications associated with the feet.
Diabetes UK’s Head of Healthcare Policy, Bridget Turner, said: “Foot injuries or ulcers in people with diabetes need to be assessed as soon as possible by an expert team. The longer they are left untreated, the greater the risk of deterioration and loss of the limb, which has devastating effects on a person’s mobility and mood, reducing independence and causing disfigurement.
“Commissioners need to work together with providers, healthcare professionals and people with diabetes within local diabetes networks to deliver high-quality integrated care. The consequences of diabetic foot disease are devastating, and it must not be ignored.”
The importance of good foot care for people with diabetes is the focus for the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists’ (SCP) ‘Feet for Life’ month in June.
Nita Parmar, SCP spokesperson, said: “It is essential that people with diabetes know how to look after their feet in order to recognise symptoms early, to prevent foot problems occurring and to ensure that they seek the right treatment when problems do occur.”
– To find out if you are at risk of diabetes visit www.diabetes.org.uk/silentassassin
– The Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) offers information and support on any aspect of managing diabetes.
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