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
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
"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
"We can end most diabetes-related amputations within a
generation - but we need to act urgently."
Professor Johnson said Diabetes Australia's new hard hitting
public awareness campaign would raise awareness about this critical
"Most people in the community have no idea that diabetes causes
so many amputations. We need to raise awareness within the
community and with key political leaders about the scale of the
problem, its impact and what we need to do to fix it," he said.
"The new campaign features the stories of Paul Walker and Ida
Ratiner, two people who have lived with type 2 diabetes for many
years and have narrowly avoided having limbs amputated thanks to
"Every year thousands of Australians are not so lucky and have
to undergo traumatic and debilitating amputations. The sad truth is
that health outcomes for people undergoing major amputations are
poor. Many people will die in the first five years after a major
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
"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
"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
Leading endovascular surgeon A/Professor Ramon Varcoe from the
Prince of Wales Hospital, who specialises in revascularisation
(getting the blood flow back into limbs) said it was far more
cost-effective to save limbs than amputate them.
"It costs the hospital system around $500,000 to amputate a leg
and this doesn't take into account the loss of productivity, carer
costs, costs of prosthetic limbs and all the other costs. It also
doesn't include the dramatic impact on the quality of life of
individuals," Dr Varcoe said.
"Every limb we save is going to change the life of an
individual, their family and their community and that can't be
"Given the costs of amputations the solution isn't a massive
funding increase, it's about changing the way we do things to help
save people's limbs."
Ida Ratiner, of Bondi Junction, faced the grim prospect of
losing her leg until a chance encounter with a GP led to seeking a
second opinion from Dr Varcoe.
"Nobody could help me and then I met Dr Varcoe. He gave me my
Diabetes NSW & ACT CEO Sturt Eastwood said the number of
amputations in NSW was forecast to increase over the decade
"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."
The campaign is supported by Abbott Vascular and Ascent
Diabetes Australia is the national body for people affected
by all types of diabetes and those at risk. Diabetes Australia is
committed to reducing the impact of diabetes. We work in
partnership with diabetes health professionals, researchers and the
community to minimise the impact of diabetes.
Liam Ferney, Diabetes Australia - 0448
130 925 | email@example.com