‘I lost my toe to diabetes’

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A diabetes-sufferer who lost a toe due to the disease is campaigning for more to be done to prevent amputations related to the condition.

St Helens resident and campaigner, George Connolly, 74, met with Marie Rimmer MP at an event in Westminster held by Diabetes UK to highlight the number of diabetes-related amputations being carried out in England.

In St Helens, 79 people with diabetes required an amputation in the period between 2011/12 and 2013/14, 26 of which were major amputations, above the ankle, which is in line with the national average.

To represent the 135 people who require an amputation each week in England, 135 shoes, donated by amputees, supporters and celebrities, were displayed at the event.

George said: “I was pleased to meet with Ms Rimmer as it gave me the chance to raise my concern about the increasing number of diabetes-related amputations taking place in England.

“Beyond living with diabetes, I have had to cope with the impact of my amputation, a devastating complication that is a direct result of my diabetes along with other complications including problems with my circulation and eyesight.

“Managing diabetes can be a daily struggle in itself, and far too many people with the condition go on to develop devastating health complications such as amputations.

“This is why I have directly appealed to Marie to raise awareness of the issue and help ensure that the Government and the NHS to do more to tackle the problem of diabetes-related amputation by improving diabetes foot care.”

The figures – which reveal amputations are at an all-time high – were calculated using new Public Health England data and show that the annual number of diabetes-related amputations in England is now more than 7,000, compared to the previous figure of 6,677.

But the charity Diabetes UK believes that with good diabetes care and foot care, up to 80 per cent of these amputations can be avoided.

Marie Rimmer MP said: “Meeting George highlighted for me the human tragedy behind these stark statistics.

“In the coming weeks I will be talking to health leaders in St Helens South and Whiston about what needs to be done to help prevent avoidable amputations and also encouraging the Government to do more to tackle this serious issue.”

A spokesman for NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group said: “St. Helens has had a long history of delivering structured education to people with diabetes to enable them to self-manage the condition and prevent complications. Additionally there has been a dedicated, specialist multi-disciplinary diabetes foot team in place for many years who work effectively to treat foot related complications and prevent amputations.”