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UK Diabetes Cases Rise by 60% in 10 Years

The UK’s leading diabetes charity Diabetes UK has warned that the number of people living with diabetes has risen by nearly 60% in the past decade.

According to the charity, there are more than 3.3 million people in the UK who are diagnosed with diabetes, up from 2.1 million in 2005, and nearly 600,000 people who are living with some form of the life-long condition but are unaware they have it. That's more than one in 16 people in the UK who has diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder – which the charity has labelled the UK’s biggest health challenge –that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

The amount of sugar in someone’s blood is controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. People with diabetes are unable to break glucose down into energy as they either do not produce enough insulin or the insulin they do produce does not work properly.

There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Roughly 90% of all adults with diabetes have type 2 diabetes where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This is the form closely linked to diet and obesity.

People with type 1 diabetes generally develop the condition in childhood and are unable to produce any insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

The complications associated with uncontrolled blood sugar levels put enormous pressure on NHS resources and can be severe, including blindness, organ and nerve damage, and amputations.

The total number of diabetes-related amputations continues to rise and is a huge concern due to the devastating impact such a procedure has on people’s lives. As well as the tremendous psychological impact that having an amputation can wreak upon someone’s life; they also cost lives as most people die within five years of having one.

NHS figures revealed in July revealed a record 135 patients are undergoing amputations every week due to diabetes.

According to Public Health England data, 18,080 patients with diabetes underwent an amputation between 2007 and 2010 – an average of 116 every week.

Between 2011 and 2014, the figures rose to 21,125. These included 14,367 people who lost a toe or part of their foot and 6,758 people who had to have their foot or part of their leg removed.

A York University study published earlier this year said diabetes is an “unfolding public health disaster” that will cost the NHS nearly £17bn within a generation. Diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10bn a year with a staggering 80% of which spent on managing avoidable complications like amputations.

The government needs to do much more to combat new diabetes cases and improve treatment for those already affected so as to prevent them from developing devastating and costly complications.

People with diabetes are much more prone to developing problems with their feet due to the damage raised blood sugars can inflict on sensation and blood circulation. If left untreated, these problems can cause foot ulcers and infections which may in turn, lead to amputations.

Most diabetes-related foot problems, however, are preventable with good personal foot care. This is why it is so important that patients with diabetes receive good quality annual foot checks and those with foot infections are able to access the right kind of urgent care if their feet deteriorate.

The Clinical Negligence team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts at dealing with failures to properly manage diabetes-related foot ulcers. Our experience has shown that these kinds of failings can have catastrophic consequences that can lead to wholly preventable amputations.

Paul Sankey is a Senior Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitor leading the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Clinical Negligence team in London.

If you or a loved one have suffered an amputation from a delay in managing your foot ulcer due to clinical or medical negligence, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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