Shocking new statistics have revealed that 20 diabetes-related amputations are being performed in England every day.
The annual number of diabetes-related amputations in England is now 7,370 a year, compared to the previous figure of 7,042, said charity Diabetes UK.
Experts said that, with good diabetes healthcare and support, four out of five amputations could be prevented as 80% begin as foot ulcers, which are largely avoidable and far more treatable if found early.
The charity has urged the Government and NHS to do more to improve diabetes foot care in England.
Diabetes UK said that due to the sharp increase in the number of people with diabetes in the past 20 years, the number of diabetes-related amputations is continuing to rise.
Diabetic foot disease remains the most common cause of hospital admission associated with the condition.
The charity’s report found that the major amputation rate – classed as amputations above the ankle – has decreased slightly since it launched its ‘Putting Feet First’ campaign in 2012.
However there is still a huge variation between the best and worst performing areas – and the gap is continuing to widen.
Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The fact that the total number of amputations is continuing to rise is a huge concern.
“We know the devastating impact they have on people’s lives as well as the huge cost to the NHS, yet we are not seeing action happening quickly enough across all areas of the country to address this.
“We have seen some areas making real efforts to improve the poor state of diabetes foot care, but these figures are a stark reminder that there is still so much more to be done, especially with regard to significant variation from GP practices and between different health areas.
“It’s a travesty that good quality foot care is a postcode lottery. People need to be getting the right care in the right place at the right time now.”
The charity has called on the Government and NHS to do more to tackle the “devastating and life-changing problem” of diabetes-related amputation by improving diabetes foot care.
It wants to see targeted action to improve the worst performing areas where rates are worsening or failing to improve.
Diabetes UK said it is vital that everyone with diabetes has access to trained healthcare professionals, foot care protection teams and multidisciplinary foot care teams to make sure problems are identified and treated early and urgently.
It is particularly important that if anyone with diabetes has a foot infection or new ulcer they get urgent attention from a team of specialists as evidence shows the longer the delay before seeing a specialist team, the more likely it is that foot ulcers will be severe and slow to heal, leading to a greater risk of amputation.
Chris Brown, 64, from Bristol, lost both of his legs below the knee due to his diabetes. He said that now, even the most basic tasks can leave him struggling.
“As I have no feeling at all in my lower legs it can be tough to even work out when I’m upright and properly balanced,” he said.
“I fall regularly and things that I used to do without thinking will take forever to accomplish.
“I used to be a voracious reader but now I struggle to concentrate in the way I used to. I moved to a bungalow after my second amputation and while it does make my life significantly easier in many ways, it also means I am seven miles away from town and it has made it harder for me to see friends and family.
“I don’t want anyone to underestimate how life-changing amputations are and how it will impact on your life in ways you can’t even imagine.”