More than a third of people in the UK 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 of 2,055 adults, conducted for Diabetes UK by YouGov, found that while 79% of people know that an amputation is a major complication of diabetes, 36% 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. 

The number of diabetes-related amputations in England is now at an all-time high, 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.

Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes-related amputations devastate lives. While it’s positive that the majority of people are aware that 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 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."

To mark the launch of Putting Feet First, Diabetes UK has made a video showing people with diabetes how to check their feet at home, and urging them to do it daily, to identify problems early.

You can watch it here.

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