NHS diabetic foot and toe amputations up 26%, Labour research claims

The number of diabetic foot and toe amputations undertaken by the NHS in a three year period rose nearly 26 per cent, according to research commissioned by the Labour Party.

Deputy leader Tom Watson revealed the statistic on Wednesday ahead of a speech where he will pledge to halt the precipitous increase in obesity-linked Type 2 diabetes within one parliamentary term if Labour is elected.

In his speech Mr Watson is expected to blame the government’s failure to address obesity, particularly among children, and food companies’ inclusion of “hidden sugar” in their products for rising obesity rates. 

While the government introduced a levy on sugary drinks, it put off other measures like a proposed ban on energy drink sales to under-18s to a second round of consultation.

Labour’s research was conducted by the impartial House of Commons library service and uses Public Health England data. It found there were 15,075 “minor” amputations below the ankle due to diabetes in England between April 2010 and March 2013.

In the same three year period from 2014 to 2017 that number had increased to 19,073, the equivalent of 120 foot or toe amputations per week or one procedure every hour and a half.

In 2016 alone the cost of amputations related to diabetes was £44m, the researchers estimate.

Mr Watson also revealed that he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is primarily linked to weight, poor diet and too little exercise.

However, writing in the Daily Express on Wednesday, he said he has put his condition into reverse and no longer requires insulin to manage his blood sugar, by bringing his weight under control and cutting out sugar and processed food in his diet.

Speaking at the UK Active conference in London Mr Watson will say: “We are facing a public health crisis as the catastrophic levels of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the UK are too dangerous to ignore.

“They are costing the NHS 10 per cent of its budget and costing thousands of lives.

“My own journey has taught me what changing your diet and getting active can do. The millions of people suffering from and at risk of Type 2 diabetes need to know that it is a preventable and reversible disease.”

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