Campaign to reduce diabetes-related amputations

Australia’s diabetes experts gathered in Sydney this weekend to discuss bold new plans to dramatically reduce the number of diabetes-related amputations in Australian hospitals every year.

Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said there were around 4,400 amputations performed in Australian hospitals every year – and up to 85 per cent of these could be prevented.

“The number of diabetes-related amputations of toes, feet and limbs is a national tragedy and we need to do more as a community to save limbs, to save lives and to save hospital budgets,” Professor Johnson said.

“Diabetes-related amputations cost the Australian health system around $875 million per year. On top of this, there is a huge personal cost to the individual and their family.”

“This is why we are calling on the Australian Government to implement a Diabetes Amputation Prevention Initiative to ensure systematic early detection of foot problems, and early treatment to prevent amputations.”

“We need to ensure people with diabetes understand what they need to do to look after their feet, make sure they can access specialised foot health teams when they need to, and ensure we set targets across the health system to reduce amputations and measure our progress.”

“We can end most diabetes-related amputations within a generation – but we need to act urgently.”

The National Association of Diabetes Centres representative, Professor Stephen Twigg, said the Association plans to roll out an accreditation program to ensure diabetes high risk foot services meet national standards of care for treating diabetes foot ulcers.

‘“Evidence shows people receive the best outcomes when they have access to a diabetes high risk foot care team in a service that includes an experienced doctor, podiatrist, nurse and, commonly, vascular and orthopaedic specialists, all working together to support the person with diabetes,” Professor Twigg said.

“At present, only some of the 120 diabetes centres and similar sites in Australia, have the interactive team of health professionals required to meet practice standards to manage foot ulcers in people with diabetes.”

“We need to increase the number of diabetes high risk foot care services across Australia. Currently it is estimated that there is about one service for every one million Australians. I think we need to lift that to about one service for every one hundred thousand Australians.”

“Australia lags behind a number of international health systems including the UK, Belgium and Germany where they have successfully reduced the number of major, or above the ankle, amputations, and have made team-based quality foot ulcer care more accessible across their countries.”

Diabetes NSW & ACT CEO Sturt Eastwood said the number of amputations in NSW was forecast to increase over the decade ahead.

“Last there were 1,315 diabetes related amputations in NSW and it’s projected that over the next 10 years, 330,000 people in NSW will require hospitalisation for diabetes related foot infections, ulcers or amputations,” Mr Eastwood said.

“The cost to the NSW community will be almost $3 billion. So we are urging people to help us spread the word about the seriousness of diabetes, and the complications, such as amputations, that are associated with it.”

“Too many people are missing out on vital health checks because they don’t understand what they need to do to look after their feet. This includes learning how to check their feet and making regular appointments with their diabetes healthcare team including their GP, diabetes educator and podiatrist.”

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