The postcode lottery of diabetes-related feet amputations in England is getting worse, according to new figures released by Diabetes UK.

The new figures, based on NHS data, show that the overall diabetes-related lower limb amputation rate has not improved, with 2.6 per thousand people with diabetes annually having a foot amputated. Moreover, the gap between the worst and best performing areas has grown bigger.

As a result, the study shows that people with diabetes in the worst performing areas (Fareham and Gosport) are now seven times more likely to have an amputation than people in the best performing areas (Brent in London).

Overall, people with diabetes are more than 20 times likely to have a lower limb amputation than people without the condition and there are more than 100 in the UK every week. These amputations have a devastating impact, with half of those people operated on dying within two years.

Elsewhere, the new figures highlight: 

  • Too many people with diabetes are not receiving a good quality annual foot check or not being informed about their risk status at the end of their check;
  • Some people with active foot disease are not being referred to a team of specialists quickly enough, despite the fact that diabetes-related foot problems can deteriorate in a matter of hours;
  • Many people with diabetes are not having their feet checked when they stay in hospital, even though the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends every hospital inpatient with diabetes should get their foot checked during their stay.
  • Too many hospitals still do not having specialist foot care teams or, if these teams are in place, not referring patients with foot disease to them quickly enough.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Given the appallingly high levels of preventable diabetes-related amputations, it is hugely disappointing that these latest figures have not shown a reduction in the rate. It means we are continuing to see thousands of people losing their feet when better healthcare could have prevented this from happening.

“It is also worrying that the gap between the best and the worst performing areas is getting wider. The postcode lottery around amputations is now so great that if you have diabetes then where you live is one of the single biggest predictors of whether you will end up having one.”