Jonathan Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, joined us and leading health care professionals to learn first-hand the seriousness of diabetes complications and what can be done to prevent them.
Mr Ashworth toured the renowned Diabetic Foot Clinic at King’s College Hospital, London, to see how the right care can significantly reduce the number of amputations in people experiencing major foot problems as a result of diabetes-related complications.
Increased risk of complications
People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of developing problems in their feet because high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, affecting how blood flows to the feet and legs. Unhealed ulcers and foot infections are the leading cause of diabetes related amputations, with diabetic foot ulcers preceding more than 80 per cent of amputations.
Leicester has the third highest prevalence of diabetes in England. More than 29,300 people in the city have been diagnosed with the condition, which is 9.2% of the population.
Diabetes is the most common cause of lower limb amputations in the UK. Someone living with diabetes is 20 times more likely to experience an amputation than someone without the condition.
Mr Ashworth’s tour included meeting surgeons, podiatrists and patients themselves as he watched latest techniques and technology in action.
Diabetes and foot problems
Among the patients who spoke about the importance of access to good footcare was former Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer and Honorary Vice President of Diabetes UK, Gary Mabbutt MBE. Gary lives with Type 1 diabetes and needed emergency surgery three years ago to save his left leg, due to nerve damage caused by his diabetes.
Gary (pictured meeting Mr Ashworth during an appointment) also received treatment at King’s College Hospital after a rat bit his foot when he was in South Africa last year. Gary was unable to feel the incident due to the damage in his blood vessels affecting the feeling in his feet. He still needs regular hospital treatment for the injury.
Peter Shorrick, our Midlands and East Regional Head, said: “The multi-disciplinary team at King’s College Hospital shows what good care looks like and the huge difference it makes.
“Access to the right care can mean the difference between saving or losing a foot or even a leg. But many areas still lack access to these specialist teams. This is shocking and we know the vast number of amputations are preventable.
“Better support, access to new self-management technologies and education can ensure more people are able to manage their diabetes well saved from the trauma of enduring a diabetes-related amputation.”
Mr Ashworth said: “I commend the hard work and excellent practice of the staff at King’s College Hospital, whose vital work is saving limbs and lives every week. It’s clear to me that diabetes if one of the biggest challenges facing us as a nation. We have to ensure diabetes teams have the resources they need to tackle and reduce complications, like amputations.
“With 12.3 million at increased risk of developing Type 2 in the future, we also have to do more to prevent the condition completely. This includes more ambitious action from Government to tackle childhood obesity and support people at risk.”