Diabetes patients in deprived areas have a higher risk of amputation
By Priya Saddington-Poole, a medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell
Patients living in the poorest areas of the UK have a risk of amputation between 1.47 and 1.82 times higher than patients from the UK’s least deprived areas, according to figures recently released by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities.
Following a review of the thousands of amputations carried out, government health data has revealed a staggering disparity in relation to the likelihood of foot amputations in patients with diabetes depending on where they live within the UK.
Those living in Blackpool have the highest risk of amputation at 16.8 per 10,000 people with diabetes.
In contrast, Harrow is said to have the lowest rate of amputation, at 3.5 per 10,000 people with diabetes.
North West identified as high rate amputation area
The north west of England was identified as having drastically higher rates of amputation, whilst London and the east of England’s rates were markedly lower. It is evident that whilst the majority of serious amputations are avoidable, patients living with diabetes in areas of higher deprivation are unable to access vital care and are experiencing worse outcomes.
Diabetes and increased risk of complications
People with diabetes are at a greater risk of foot-related complications due to the issues that raised blood sugars can cause to their circulation and sensation.
High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels affecting the blood flow to the legs and feet. These complications at worst can lead to amputation.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines are clear that foot-related issues are preventable by prompt care and management, minimising any delay in receiving the first assessment and undertaking annual checks of the feet. Infections and unhealed ulcers are predominantly the cause of diabetes-related amputations.
However, according to Diabetes UK, one in six patients with diabetes has had no contact with a healthcare professional since before the pandemic.
Drop in patients receiving recommended checks
Previous figures published by the NHS indicate that just 36 per cent of diabetes patients in England had received all of their recommended checks in 2020-2021, a significant drop from the 57 per cent reported in 2019-2020.
The NHS has stated that it will provide £36 million to local areas to recover services for people living with or at risk of diabetes. It is hoped that urgent action is taken to implement a recovery plan for diabetes care before patients suffer needless amputation. It is also important that patients are not subject to a postcode lottery in terms of treatment and that care is consistent nationally.
As experts in medical negligence claims, sadly we have seen a number of cases relating to diabetes-related amputations where foot care has not been taken seriously. One such case involved a patient who was seen 21 times by his GP before his symptoms were investigated.
More must be done to learn from examples such as this.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in supporting those who have suffered from amputations following care issues at our dedicated medical negligence section.
The likelihood that a diabetes patient will need to have a foot amputated differs sharply depending on where they are living in the UK, according to new government health data which reveals thousands of procedures are being carried out each year.
People living in the most deprived areas of the country had a risk of amputation that was between 1.47 and 1.82 times higher compared to the least deprived areas, figures published by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities from the three years leading up to the pandemic.”