More than a third of people in Yorkshire and Humber are not aware that foot ulcers are a serious complication of diabetes, despite being a leading cause of diabetes-related amputations, a new survey commissioned by Diabetes UK has revealed.
The survey, conducted for Diabetes UK by YouGov, found that while 81 per cent of people in Yorkshire and Humber know that an amputation is a major complication of diabetes, 40 per cent did not know that people with diabetes are susceptible to foot ulcers, which when unhealed are responsible for as many as four-in-five diabetes-related amputations.
These findings are revealed as Diabetes UK launches its latest Putting Feet First campaign, through which the charity is calling for urgent improvements to community diabetes foot services. Nearly a quarter of hospitals in England still do not have a specialist diabetes foot care team, and the quality of community diabetes foot services across England vary significantly.
Foot problems, such as infections or ulcers, can deteriorate quickly and with devastating consequences, so Diabetes UK wants to see people with diabetes receiving routine access to podiatrists and foot protection teams, who can assess problems early and treat them.
There were 191 diabetes-related amputations in Doncaster during the period 2013-2016. This represents an increase of 41 procedures compared to the previous three-year recording period. Across the country a total of 25,527 amputations were reported in the period 2013-2016.
An amputation can be devastating to a person’s quality of life, and can even be life threatening – with up to 80 per cent of people with diabetes dying within five years following surgery. Foot ulcers and amputations are also very costly to the NHS; with at least £1 in every £140 of NHS spending in England going on foot care for people with diabetes*.
Stephen Ryan, Head of the North at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives. While it’s positive that the majority of people in Yorkshire and Humber are aware that an amputation is a complication of diabetes, it’s very worrying that so many don’t know the dangers posed by foot ulcers.
“That’s why it’s essential that people living with diabetes in the region know how to look after their feet, and that they check them daily. It’s also crucial that they know to seek urgent medical attention if they notice any problems with their feet; a matter of hours can make the difference between losing and keeping a limb.
“With the right support, four out of five amputations are preventable. 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.”
To mark the launch of Putting Feet First, Diabetes UK is showing people with diabetes how to check their feet at home, and urging them to do it daily, to identify problems early. A new video, featuring Diabetes UK’s Head of Care, Dan Howarth, gives four simple, key steps to performing a daily foot health check:
1. Take off your shoes and socks
2. Check your foot temperature
3. Visually inspect your feet for calluses, and changes in shape or colour
4. Check in-between your toes, and your toenails
It is particularly important that if anyone with diabetes has a foot infection or an ulcer they get urgent medical attention.
The video can be viewed via the following link: