Diabetes and Diabetic Foot Disease

Every three minutes someone in the UK learns that they have diabetes1. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased to more than 3.2 million2, and estimates suggest a further 850,000 people in the UK have diabetes but are either unaware, or have no confirmed diagnosis3.

Another 7 million people could be at high risk of developing diabetes, and the numbers are rising dramatically every year. If current trends continue by 2025, it is estimated that 5 million people in the UK will have diabetes4. 10 per cent of people have Type 1 diabetes, and 90 per cent have Type 2 diabetes2.

By the time they are diagnosed 50 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes show signs of complications6.

Many of these complications are avoidable with good risk assessment and early diagnosis, patient education, support and ongoing services7.

Around 61,000 people with diabetes are thought to have foot ulcers at any given time, which is approximately 2.5% of the diabetes population5.

80% suffer with some form of diabetic skin problem as a consequence of high blood sugar levels. The problem is most visible on the legs and feet. Typical symptoms include extreme dryness, calluses, pressure ulcers and cracks on the feet, foot fungus and the tiniest wound being a real danger for them. Intensive daily care to the feet must therefore include an appropriate skin care regime to replenish the skin’s moisture and fat content, as well as create a protective layer against the outside environment8.


Estimates show that of more than 100 amputations carried out each week from diabetes complications7, up to 80% are preventable7.

What Needs To Be Done

Every person with diabetes should have annual foot checks, be told and understand their risk score and should be educated on how to look after their own feet.
People in all areas should have swift access to Foot Protection or Multi-disciplinary Foot Care Teams, which have been shown to significantly reduce levels of risk.
People with diabetes who go into hospital, for whatever reason, should have their feet checked on admission and throughout their stay.
Healthcare professionals need a greater understanding of the importance of diabetes footcare7.


1. This figure was worked out using the diagnosed figure from the 2009 Quality and outcomes framework with figures from the 2010 Quality and outcomes framework: Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) 2009. Accessed September 2014
2. New figures, QOF Diabetes Prevalence 2013 (February 2014)- Accessed 8 Sept 2014
3. Figure based on data from AHPO diabetes prevalence model figures and the QOF 2010 figures State of the Nation 2012. Accessed Sept 8 2014.
4. Diabetes UK. (2011). Diabetes in the UK 2011-12 Key Statistics on diabetes.Accessed 8 Sept 2014.
5. Kerr M. 2012 Foot Care for People with Diabetes: The Economic Case for Change.Accessed 8 Sept 2014.
6. Diabetes UK. (2010). State of Diabetes Care in the UK 2009. Accessed 8 Sept 2014
7. State of the Nation 2012 England. Accessed 8 Sept 2014
8. Dr Rainer Thiede, Dr Martin Lederle, Prof Rolf Daniels: Skin Care and Diabetes, Diabetes and the Skin 2011 2nd edition:35-39


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