The number of diabetic people having “devastating” toe and foot amputations in Wigan is on the increase.
Between 2011 and 2014, there were 98 amputations due to diabetes in the NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group area, according to data published by Public Health England.
But by the end of the 2014 to ’17 period, this figure had risen to 108 - an increase of 10 per cent.
Below-the-ankle amputations are defined by Public Health England as “minor” amputations.
But the Royal College of Surgeons says that, despite the name, minor amputations can have a major impact on patients because they can be difficult to heal, can impair walking, and may even lead to further infections.
Across England, minor amputations increased by 17 per cent over the same period, rising to almost 19,100.
The charity Diabetes UK said “urgent action” was needed to stop what it described as an “epidemic” of diabetes.
It also said more needed to be done to address disparities in the quality of care available in different parts of the country.
According to the charity, foot problems are the most common cause of hospital stays for people with diabetes.
The disease can cause a loss of blood supply and feeling in the legs and feet, which can in turn cause ulcers and infections.
But around four out of five amputations could be prevented if diabetics had the right support, according to Diabetes UK.
The Department for Health and Social Care however says that minor amputations are sometimes performed as a preventative measure, to reduce the risk of a patient having to have a major above-the-ankle amputation later on.
Public Health England estimates that around eight per cent of Wigan CCG’s population have either been diagnosed with diabetes or are living with it undiagnosed. This would mean around 27,300 people currently have the disease, based on the most recent population estimates.