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Care failings put 1 in 4 people with diabetes at risk of amputation

One in four people (25 per cent) with diabetes in the UK could be at risk of amputation because they have not received a foot check in the last year, according to a new survey by Diabetes UK.

People with diabetes are up to 15 times more likely to have a major amputation than people without the condition, and should receive a foot and leg check as part of their annual healthcare review.

Necessary care

The survey results, based on the personal experiences of over 7,000 people with diabetes in the UK, clearly show that people with the condition are not receiving the care they need, and also reinforce clinical figures released earlier this year from the National Diabetes Audit, which revealed one in six people with diabetes (16.5 per cent) had not received a foot check in the last year.

The survey also found that 22 per cent of people with diabetes had not, or were not aware they had, received a blood or urine test in the past year to monitor their kidney function. Sixty-two per cent of people did not have an individual care plan developed with their healthcare professional, and 34 per cent of people had never been offered any education to help them manage their diabetes.

15 healthcare essentials

We are urging people on World Diabetes Day (14 November) to support our new 15 healthcare essentials campaign which, by outlining the minimum standards of care people with diabetes should receive, aims to ensure that people with the condition are able to acess the care they need to stay healthy and reduce the risk of complications such as amputations. In particular, we are calling on:

  • People with diabetes, their family and friends to use the 15 healthcare essentials checklist to be aware of what care they should receive and understand how to reduce their risk of foot complications, and to contact their healthcare team as soon as a problem occurs
  • Healthcare professionals and commissioners to use the checklist to ensure their patients are receiving the minimum standard of care they require, and to prioritise integrated and structured diabetes care, which includes foot care, in all service plans
  • Government to place a greater emphasis on prioritising diabetes in the Health Outcomes and Commissioning Frameworks and to ensure footcare complications are monitored and targeted to improve standards of care.

Rising tide of complications

Diabetes UK Chief Executive, Barbara Young, said, "The rising tide of diabetes-related complications threatens to bankrupt the NHS as well as ruin people’s lives. It is vital that every one of the 3.75 million people with diabetes in the UK receives the 15 healthcare essentials to prevent them from developing such devastating complications. We are also calling on the many healthcare professionals who are already backing our campaign for better standards of care to ensure this becomes a reality for their patients.

"The number of people with diabetes in the UK has increased by nearly 130,000 in the last year, and it is expected that five million people will be diagnosed with the condition by 2030. If we do not step in now to improve the levels of care that people with diabetes receive, then even greater numbers will be at risk of developing health complications. This is an unacceptable prospect, so we must tackle this problem now. The human and financial cost along with the impact on the NHS is simply too big to ignore."

Regular care and support

It is vital that people with diabetes receive the 15 healthcare essentials because:

  • People with diabetes are up to four times more likely to have a heart attack and up to five times more likely to have kidney failure than people without the condition
  • There are 2.9 million people with diabetes in the UK, equating to 4.45 per cent of the adult population. It is also estimated there are an additional 850,000 people who have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes (totalling 3.75 million people with diabetes in the UK).

Other complications of diabetes include stroke and blindness; however, many can be prevented or reduced in severity if people regularly receive the care and support they need to manage their condition.

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