Putting Feet First

Up to 80 per cent of diabetes-related amputations in England each year are preventable.

Diabetes UK is campaigning to Put Feet First. Worldwide, diabetes-related complications result in the amputation of a lower limb every 30 seconds. It’s estimated that people living with diabetes are 30 times more likely to have an amputation compared to the general population.

We want to bring an end to the thousands of potentially preventable amputations affecting people with diabetes.

We’ve identified some key areas that we believe will help dramatically reduce the number of people with diabetes suffering amputations. We're campaigning across the UK to make sure:

  • People with diabetes know how to look after their feet and know what to expect from their health service
  • Local health services provide an integrated footcare pathway – the right treatment at the right time in the right place
  • Healthcare professsionals are more aware of the risk of diabetic foot disease and provide annual checks
  • A national diabetes implementation plan is put in place, with all aspects of care monitored.

Read more about what we are calling for.

What you can do to Put Feet First

We need you to help us. Find out how you can be part of the solution:

People with diabetes

You can get involved in Putting Feet First by:

Joining the campaign

Join Diabetes UK’s Putting Feet First campaign and together we can dramatically reduce the number of amputations suffered by people with diabetes. Whether you’ve got a few minutes to spare or an hour to give, there will be some way you can help. Visit our Diabetes Voices pages to find out more.

Looking after your feet

Know how to look after your feet and know what care to expect from the health service.

  • Attend your annual foot check. It’s as important as your retinal screening appointment.
  • Know your risk of developing foot problems and make sure that you are referred if necessary.
  • Make foot-care a part of your daily routine, just like managing your blood glucose and diet.
  • Be aware of any loss of sensation in your feet.
  • Ask someone to assess the feeling in your toes by doing the Touch the Toes test.
  • Avoid using corn-removing plasters or blades.
  • Keep useful numbers handy, and know who to contact at the first sign of problems with your feet.

Healthcare professionals

You can support the campaign by:

  • understanding the risk of diabetic foot disease
  • talking about it to people with diabetes
  • providing annual foot checks, documenting the level of risk of developing foot ulcers, and telling people with diabetes what their risk is.
    Patient information leaflets for low, moderate or increased, high risk and active foot disease are available for you to use in your consultations:
  • quickly referring to specialists where necessary, and providing seamless transfer of care by following an integrated foot care pathway (PDF 772KB)
  • Participating in the National Diabetes Audit in England and diabetes networks to influence the delivery of integrated care in your local area

Commissioners and NHS healthcare planners

Local health services need to deliver the integrated foot care pathway (PDF, 772KB) – that means providing the right treatment at the right time and in the right place for all people with diabetes:

  • Set up referral within 24 hours to a multidisciplinary specialist footcare team for those with ulcers.
  • Ensure appropriate referral to a foot protection team which has specialist expertise in assessment and management of disease of the foot.
  • Create local diabetes networks to join up and improve foot care for people with diabetes.

Read more about what Diabetes UK is calling for.

Fast Track for a Foot Attack

Each week in England there are around 120 amputations in people with diabetes. The majority of diabetes-related amputations are caused by a "foot attack" – a foot ulcer or infection failing to heal. When people with a foot attack get rapid access for treatment by a specialist multi-disciplinary team this has been shown to promote faster healing and fewer amputations, saving money and lives.

In October 2012 people with diabetes, vascular surgeons, podiatrists, diabetologists, commissioners, researchers and policy advisers, GPs and a health economist came together in Westminster to spend a day sharing their expertise and experience of footcare for people with diabetes. They were all in agreement that rapid access to specialist assessment and treatment for all those with a foot problem would make all the difference in achieving the goal of reducing amputations by 50 per cent over the next five years.

Action needs to be taken by the NHS Commissioning Board, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Health and Wellbeing Boards. This report sets out key recommendations for Clinical Commissioning Groups arising from the day.

Download Fast Track For A Foot Attack: Reducing Amputations (PDF, 630KB)

Campaign materials

All Putting Feet First materials are available via the online shop.