Ex-Spurs and England footballer Gary Mabbutt MBE is among the patients helping to raise awareness of the importance of foot health for people with diabetes.
Mabbutt was at King’s College Hospital’s Diabetic Foot Clinic during a visit from shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, as patients and doctors showed how specialist care at the Denmark Hill hospital is reducing the number of amputations from diabetes-related complications.
Mabbutt, who has Type 1 diabetes – a type of diabetes that is not preventable – needed emergency surgery three years ago to save his leg due to nerve damage caused by his diabetes.
He has also been treated at the hospital after he was bitten on the foot by a rat in South Africa. At the time, he couldn’t feel the bite due to damage in his blood vessels leaving him without feeling in his feet. He still needs regular treatment for the injury.
People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing problems in their feet as high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, affecting blood flow.
Unhealed ulcers and foot infections are leading causes of diabetes-related amputations. According to charity Diabetes UK, around 80 per cent of these amputations are preceded by foot ulcers.
Roz Rosenblatt, London head at Diabetes UK, said: “The multi-disciplinary team at King’s College Hospital shows what good care looks like and the huge difference it makes.
“Access to the right care can mean the difference between saving or losing a foot or even a leg. But many areas still lack access to these specialist teams.
“This is shocking and we know the vast number of amputations are preventable.
“Better support, access to new self-management technologies and education can ensure more people are able to manage their diabetes well saved from the trauma of enduring a diabetes-related amputation.”
The hospital’s work was commended by Mr Ashworth, who said: “I commend the hard work and excellent practice of the staff at King’s College Hospital, whose vital work is saving limbs and lives every week.
“It’s clear to me that diabetes if one of the biggest challenges facing us as a nation.
“We have to ensure diabetes teams have the resources they need to tackle and reduce complications, like amputations.
““With 12.3 million at increased risk of developing Type 2 in the future, we also have to do more to prevent the condition completely.
“This includes more ambitious action from government to tackle childhood obesity and support people at risk.”
For information on foot care for people with diabetes, visit: www.diabetes.org.uk/be-in-the-know-check-your-feet