Britain’s diabetes epidemic is fuelling an all-time high of 160 amputations a week, figures reveal.
More than 8,500 procedures are carried out in England each year as a result – the equivalent of 23 each day.
Nine in ten cases of the condition are type 2, which is linked to obesity and inactivity.
Diabetes UK warned that soaring obesity rates are behind the trend, with two in three adults now overweight or obese.
It also said amputations are often life-threatening, with up to eight out of 10 diabetic patients dying within five years of surgery.
Britain’s obesity epidemic is causing 160 amputations a week, figures show (stock photo)
Yet four out of five amputations are preventable, according to the charity.
It revealed more than a third of people remain unaware foot ulcers are a serious complication of the disease and the leading cause of limb loss.
Foot ulcers and amputations burden the taxpayer with £1 in every £140 of NHS spending in England going on foot care for diabetics.
Diabetes UK has called for improved diabetes foot services.
Dan Howarth, head of care at the charity, said: ‘Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives.
‘But the quality and availability of services still varies significantly across England.
‘We want to see greater commitment from Government to improving diabetes foot services, ensuring routine, high-quality care to those who need it, regardless of where they live.’
‘NOTHING CAN PREPARE YOU FOR IT’ SAYS SOON-TO-BE DOUBLE AMPUTEE
Ben Harris is about to become a double amputee due to diabetes
Ben Harris, 42, from Berkshire, was diagnosed with type 2 when he was 18 and had his right leg amputated aged 36 after three years of treatment for an ulcer that had formed on his big toe.
He is also due to have his left leg amputated due to osteomyelitis and ulcers and has also suffered sight loss due to diabetic retinopathy.
Mr Harris said: ‘I was absolutely devastated when I was told my right leg had to be amputated below the knee.
‘It was horrible, nothing can prepare you for it. I cried and I was scared, I’m not going to deny it.
‘There needs to be more information for young people with diabetes about the risks of diabetes complications.
‘I was never told about the importance of foot care or the very real possibility of amputations.’
Importance of footcare
He urged patients to seek urgent treatment for foot ulcers – as ‘a matter of hours can make the difference between losing and keeping a limb’.
‘While it’s positive that the majority of people are aware that amputation is a complication of diabetes, it’s very worrying that so many don’t know the dangers posed by foot ulcers,’ he added.
‘That’s why it’s essential that people living with diabetes know how to look after their feet, and that they check them daily.’
The amputation figures come from Public Health England and the Cardiovascular Intelligence Network which were analysed by Diabetes UK.
They also reveal 240,000 people with the condition are diagnosed with heart disease or strokes each year.
This includes 23,200 who suffer a heart attack, 31,900 struck down by a stroke and 92,800 who develop heart failure.
For more information about foot care in diabetes visit here.