More than a third of people in the UK are not aware that foot ulcers are a serious complication of diabetes, despite them being a leading cause of diabetes-related amputations, a charity has warned.
A survey, for Diabetes UK, found 36% of respondents did not know that people with diabetes were susceptible to foot ulcers, which left unhealed were behind up four-in-five related amputations.
“Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives”
In contrast, 79% of respondents said they did know that an amputation was a major complication of diabetes, according to the survey of 2,055 adults, conducted for Diabetes UK by YouGov.
The survey findings mark the launch of Diabetes UK’s 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, it noted.
Diabetes UK said it wanted to see people with diabetes receiving routine access to podiatrists and foot protection teams, who can assess problems early and treat them.
The number of diabetes-related amputations in England is now at an all-time high, it warned, with more than 8,500 procedures being carried out each year.
This equates to 23 minor and major amputations per day, or more than 160 a week, the charity highlighted.
In addition, it noted that up to 80% of those with the condition died within five years of surgery and at least £1 in every £140 of NHS spending in England went on foot care for diabetes patients.
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Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives. It’s very worrying that so many don’t know the dangers posed by foot ulcers.
“With the right support, four out of five amputations are preventable,” he said. “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,” he added.