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Hospitals in England are amputating more limbs than EVER because of diabetes

More people than ever are having parts of their legs amputated because of diabetes complications, figures have revealed.

More than 27,000 toe, feet and lower leg amputations were carried out by the NHS between 2015 and 2018.

This is 3,000 more than in the three years prior and is down to cases of type 2 diabetes – a weight-related illness – soaring.

The number of patients suffering from the illness has doubled since the mid-90s, putting hundreds of thousands at higher risk of stroke and heart disease.

Doctors are having to amputate more people’s toes and feet because of complications of type 2 diabetes, which is triggered by obesity and now affects more than 3million Britons (stock image)

Figures revealed by Public Health England show the scale of the ‘devastating’ operations.

The government body recorded hospital admissions and amputations among patients with diabetic foot disease, a condition caused by nerve damage in the legs.

Diabetes leads to high levels of sugar in the blood, which can damage nerves, and reduced circulation, which cuts off oxygen supply, potentially harming tissue.

Both slow the healing of wounds and allow them to spiral out of control and eventually lead to an injury or infection so bad only amputation can help.

The number of people with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales is around 3.4million, with more than 200,000 diagnosed in 2017.

In comparison, just 1.4million people had diabetes diagnoses in 1996, about 90 per cent of them with type 2.

The figure is expected to surpass 5.5m by 2030, Diabetes UK said – the condition is closely linked to being overweight, inactive and consuming too much sugar.

In total, England had 27,465 lower limb amputations among patients with diabetic foot disease between 2015 and 2018.

The figure was a rise from 24,181 in 2012-2015.

HOW CAN DIABETES LEAD TO FOOT AMPUTATIONS? 

People with diabetes are far more likely to need their toes or feet amputated because their injuries do not heal normally. 

High blood sugar can cause nerve damage which means patients cannot feel their skin as well and may not know when they have a wound, or feel how serious it is.

And diabetes restricts circulation in the legs, which slows down healing because oxygen and nutrients are in short supply.

The combination of these two factors means it can take longer for people to get over injuries and the healing time means there is more opportunity for it to become infected or for flesh to die because of gangrene.

If an injury becomes too infected or untreatable the affected part of the body may have to be cut off.

Source: American Podiatric Medicine Association  

Some 7,545 of those in the most recent three years were major, meaning above the ankle, while 19,920 were minor – below the ankle.

Campaigners said action must be taken to curb rising diabetes rates and help people avoid the drastic surgery.

The statistics confirmed the number of amputations is rising because more people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – the individual risk for a diabetic person is not significantly increasing.

Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK said: ‘The number of people with diabetes experiencing a lower limb amputation continues to rise as the number of people living with the condition grows.

‘It’s vital that action is taken to prevent as many people from developing type 2 diabetes as possible so fewer people are at risk of a devastating, and often avoidable, amputation.’

The rate per person of major amputations did not increase, but there was a slight increase in minor amputations.

Figures showed the areas worst hit by these operations, which involve removing part or all of the foot.

The area covering north, east and west Devon was worst affected, with 420 people having the ops – up from just 72 between 2012 and 2015.

It was followed by Somerset, with 404 between 2015 and 2018, and Birmingham and Solihull with 395.

Dr Jennifer Smith, diabetes expert for Public Health England said: ‘It’s a tragedy that so many people are unnecessarily having to face the life-changing consequences of diabetes, such as amputations.

Survival rates and quality of life for people following such major surgery can often be poor. This shouldn’t be happening when the condition is preventable.’

She added: ‘Type 2 diabetes remains the greatest health challenge in this country and many adults are in danger of developing this deadly but preventable disease.’

Diabetes UK’s Ms Joule added: ‘People with diabetes also need to ensure they are attending their free annual NHS foot check, and if they notice any issues with their feet, immediately see a healthcare professional.

‘[This] could be the difference between keeping and losing a foot.’ 

WHICH NHS AREAS HAD THE MOST MINOR LOWER LIMB AMPUTATIONS IN 2015-2018?
NHS area Minor amputations 2015-2018 Minor amputations 2012-2015 NHS area Minor amputations 2015-2018 Minor amputations 2012-2015
NHS Northern, Eastern And Western Devon CCG 420 72 NHS Mansfield And Ashfield 86 89
NHS Somerset CCG 404 81 NHS Canterbury And Coastal CCG 86 65
NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG 395 66 NHS Southwark 85 89
NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG 384 35 NHS North Durham CCG 85 N/A
NHS Kernow CCG 353 113 NHS Newham 83 69
NHS Leeds 299 33 NHS Brent 80 69
NHS Liverpool CCG 294 25 NHS Bromley 80 88
NHS Dorset CCG 264 82 NHS North East Hampshire And Farnham CCG 80 102
NHS Gloucestershire CCG 257 103 NHS North Hampshire CCG 80 36
NHS West Hampshire CCG 235 51 NHS Thanet CCG 80 96
NHS Sheffield 224 78 NHS Ealing 78 31
NHS West Kent CCG 213 96 NHS North Derbyshire 78 189
NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG 208 31 NHS North East Lincolnshire 78 76
NHS Sandwell And West Birmingham CCG 207 79 NHS West Essex CCG 78 102
NHS Doncaster 191 36 NHS Hartlepool And Stockton-On-Tees CCG 77 137
NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG 179 73 NHS Oldham CCG 76 107
NHS Wiltshire CCG 179 69 NHS Heywood, Middleton And Rochdale CCG 75 100
NHS Shropshire 175 62 NHS East Leicestershire And Rutland CCG 74 65
NHS North Cumbria CCG 167 49 NHS West Cheshire CCG 74 46
NHS Manchester CCG 167 24 NHS Warwickshire North CCG 74 61
NHS Nene CCG 165 69 NHS Hastings And Rother CCG 73 124
NHS Wirral CCG 158 91 NHS North Tyneside CCG 72 36
NHS Vale Of York 157 42 NHS Scarborough And Ryedale 71 87
NHS South Devon And Torbay CCG 153 62 NHS Bassetlaw 70 65
NHS Hull 152 45 NHS South Sefton CCG 70 60
NHS East Riding Of Yorkshire 146 30 NHS Greater Preston CCG 70 175
NHS Coventry And Rugby CCG 146 74 NHS Hillingdon 69 51
NHS East Lancashire CCG 145 38 NHS Cannock Chase 69 83
NHS Buckinghamshire CCG 144 42 NHS East Staffordshire 69 103
NHS Northumberland CCG 143 28 NHS North Lincolnshire 69 54
NHS Swindon CCG 143 53 NHS Wandsworth 68 80
NHS Mid Essex CCG 140 31 NHS Lincolnshire East CCG 68 70
NHS Oxfordshire CCG 136 46 NHS Isle Of Wight CCG 67 81
NHS Croydon 135 63 NHS Hounslow 66 32
NHS Southampton CCG 135 37 NHS Waltham Forest 66 103
NHS Walsall CCG 135 46 NHS South Cheshire CCG 66 45
NHS East And North Hertfordshire CCG 134 115 NHS Bury CCG 66 79
NHS Medway CCG 134 62 NHS Surrey Downs CCG 66 39
NHS Barnsley 133 78 NHS Tameside And Glossop CCG 65 126
NHS Durham Dales, Easington And Sedgefield CCG 133 86 NHS Harrow 63 49
NHS Newcastle And Gateshead CCG 133 107 NHS Herts Valleys CCG 62 53
NHS Stoke On Trent 129 59 NHS Halton CCG 62 N/A
NHS Nottingham City 126 23 NHS East Surrey CCG 62 33
NHS South Eastern Hampshire CCG 126 28 NHS Milton Keynes CCG 61 N/A
NHS Bolton CCG 125 125 NHS South Tyneside CCG 60 N/A
NHS Berkshire West CCG 125 93 NHS Airedale, Wharfdale And Craven 59 N/A
NHS Telford And Wrekin 123 143 NHS West Norfolk CCG 59 99
NHS South Tees CCG 123 36 NHS High Weald Lewes Havens CCG 59 61
NHS Southend CCG 123 120 NHS Tower Hamlets 58 60
NHS Greenwich 122 90 NHS Newark & Sherwood 58 82
NHS South Warwickshire CCG 120 54 NHS Kingston 57 110
NHS Bedfordshire CCG 118 76 NHS Norwich CCG 56 89
NHS Havering 117 25 NHS Guildford and Waverley CCG 56 121
NHS Castle Point And Rochford CCG 116 32 NHS Camden 54 152
NHS Ipswich And East Suffolk CCG 116 109 NHS Knowsley CCG 54 20
NHS Greater Huddersfield 115 78 NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG 53 195
NHS Wakefield 115 124 NHS Horsham And Mid Sussex CCG 53 33
NHS East Berkshire CCG 113 147 NHS Redditch And Bromsgrove CCG 53 63
NHS Calderdale 112 111 NHS Wyre Forest CCG 53 70
NHS North West Surrey CCG 110 54 NHS Hardwick 52 183
NHS Bexley 109 37 NHS West London (K&C & QPP) 51 28
NHS Herefordshire CCG 109 124 NHS Nottingham North And East 51 82
NHS South Worcestershire CCG 108 N/A NHS Stafford And Surrounds 51 53
NHS Lambeth 107 54 NHS Warrington CCG 51 96
NHS Southern Derbyshire 107 40 NHS Merton 50 47
NHS Fareham And Gosport CCG 107 44 NHS Islington 49 76
NHS South Kent Coast CCG 106 99 NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire And Whitby 49 49
NHS Swale CCG 106 75 NHS Sutton 48 64
NHS Barking And Dagenham 105 205 NHS North Kirklees 48 79
NHS West Leicestershire CCG 105 153 NHS Harrogate And Rural District 46 131
NHS Salford CCG 104 92 NHS South Lincolnshire CCG 45 74
NHS Rotherham 102 106 NHS Fylde & Wyre CCG 45 50
NHS Blackpool CCG 102 17 NHS Hammersmith And Fulham 44 48
NHS Barnet 101 94 NHS Crawley CCG 44 66
NHS North East Essex CCG 100 74 NHS North Norfolk CCG 43 207
NHS North Staffordshire 99 62 NHS Chorley And South Ribble CCG 43 43
NHS Wolverhampton CCG 99 96 NHS Southport And Formby CCG 42 N/A
NHS Lewisham 98 41 NHS Lincolnshire West CCG 41 305
NHS Morecambe Bay CCG 98 62 NHS South West Lincolnshire CCG 41 118
NHS Dartford, Gravesham And Swanley CCG 98 36 NHS South Norfolk CCG 41 146
NHS City And Hackney 97 85 NHS Bath And North East Somerset CCG 41 207
NHS Great Yarmouth And Waveney CCG 97 133 NHS Nottingham West 39 298
NHS Portsmouth CCG 97 46 NHS Luton CCG 39 412
NHS Haringey 96 39 NHS Rushcliffe 37 300
NHS Bradford Districts 96 89 NHS Darlington CCG 37 114
NHS Leicester City CCG 96 27 NHS Richmond 35 N/A
NHS Brighton And Hove CCG 93 56 NHS Erewash 35 156
NHS Sunderland CCG 92 42 NHS Bradford City 35 79
NHS Dudley CCG 92 196 NHS Ashford CCG 34 71
NHS Enfield 91 57 NHS Vale Royal CCG 33 40
NHS South East Staffs And Seisdon Peninsular 91 63 NHS Central London (Westminster) 29 183
NHS St Helens CCG 91 32 NHS Basildon And Brentwood CCG 29 88
NHS Wigan Borough CCG 91 67 NHS Surrey Heath CCG 29 85
NHS Eastbourne, Hailsham And Seaford CCG 90 33 NHS Thurrock CCG 28 130
NHS Redbridge 88 81 NHS Trafford CCG 28 71
NHS West Suffolk CCG 87 78 NHS West Lancashire CCG 24 85
NHS Stockport CCG 87 116 NHS Corby CCG 19 50
NHS Blackburn With Darwen CCG 87 18 Source: Public Health England

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