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More than 135 diabetes amputations every week

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New figures have revealed that the number of diabetes-related amputations each week in England has now reached an all-time record high of 135, according to new analysis by Diabetes UK. 

The figures, calculated using new Public Health England data, show that the annual number of diabetes-related amputations in England is now more than 7,000, compared to the previous figure of 6,677. This equates to seven more amputations each week. Yet, with good diabetes and footcare, up to 80 per cent of these amputations can be avoided. 

Diabetes-related amputations figure rising

The figures show that despite a big focus on preventing these amputations, the amputation rate for major and minor amputations combined in people with diabetes has stayed the same. And because of the sharp increase in the number of people with diabetes in the past 20 years, the number of diabetes-related amputations is rising.

There is, though, some positive news in that the major amputation rate (classed as amputations above the ankle) has decreased slightly since Diabetes UK launched the Putting Feet First campaign in 2012. 

Diabetes UK calls on Government and NHS to act

Diabetes UK is calling on the Government and the NHS to do more to tackle the problem of diabetes-related amputation by improving diabetes footcare. This includes ensuring everyone with diabetes gets good quality annual foot checks and that anyone who has a foot problem gets the right care to prevent or treat it. It is particularly important that if anyone with diabetes has a foot infection they get urgent attention from a team of specialists. 

135 shoes on display

To highlight the human tragedy behind these statistics, Diabetes UK is today (Wednesday 15 July) displaying 135 shoes to represent the number of diabetes-related amputations a week. They have been donated from people who have had an amputation, supporters and celebrities and each has a personal message attached to it.

"Devastating impact"

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The fact that the total number of amputations is continuing to rise is a huge concern because we know the devastating impact they have on people’s lives. As well as the psychological impact, they also cost lives as most people die within five years of having one. 

“We have seen some areas making real efforts to improve the poor state of diabetes footcare, but these figures are a stark reminder that there is still so much more to be done. For example, not enough people are receiving their annual foot check and those who do often tell us their check was not very thorough. This means they don’t understand their risk of amputation, how to look after their feet or the urgency of getting help if their foot deteriorates. 

“We need urgent action to address this, and with the shoes on display today we want to send a powerful message about the scale of this issue. The vast majority of these amputations are not inevitable and we need people to show us they care about what is happening and take action to help us help many more people avoid the trauma of amputation. That’s why we’re asking people to tweet the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, about this using #135shoes. For more information on this and other ways to get involvedvisit our Putting Feet First campaign webpage.”

Celebrities support campaign

Celebrities who have donated signed shoes for our 135 event include:

  • Footballer Gary Mabbutt MBE, who has had Type 1 diabetes since he was a teenager and nearly lost his leg two years ago due to diabetes complications, has donated a pair of football boots.
  • X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, whose mum (Melissa Bell, former singer with Soul II Soul) has Type 2 diabetes and is on kidney dialysis due to the condition, gave a pair of heels.
  • Comedian Joe Pasquale, whose daughter has Type 1 diabetes, has given the trainers he ran the London Marathon in.
  • Spice Girl Mel C has donated a pair of Cavalli heels - and her step-brother, the racing driver Paul O’Neill, who has Type 1 diabetes, has donated a pair of racing boots.
  • Actress Elinor Crawley, who has Type 1 diabetes, has donated the ballet shoes she wore in a BBC children’s drama.
  • Sky News presenter Stephen Dixon, who has Type 1 diabetes, has given shoes he previously wore for work.
  • Olympic Gold figure skater Robin Cousins has donated a pair of ice skates (without blade) to support the event because there is diabetes in his family.

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