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The number of diabetes-related amputations of feet and toes carried out by the NHS rose by more than a quarter in a three-year period earlier this decade, research by the Labour Party found last month.
Research was carried out on behalf of the party by House of Commons Library staff and used Public Health England data.
It found that between April 2010 and May 2013, there were 15,075 operations classed as minor amputations carried out below the ankle as a result of diabetes. However, the equivalent period between 2014 and 2017 saw 19,073 being carried out, a rise of 26 per cent.
The research was undertaken to support plans announced by deputy leader Tom Watson in a party conference speech, which outlined a range of policies a future Labour government would introduce to combat the rise in diabetes linked to obesity.
“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," said Mr Watson, who revealed that he has had Type 2 diabetes himself, but undertook strict dietary changes to reverse the condition.
"The millions of people suffering from and at risk of Type 2 diabetes need to know that it is a preventable and reversible disease," he added.
While that may reduce the chances of Mr Watson needing to see a podiatrist because of diabetes-related foot problems, the increase in the prominence of diabetes could see more amputations in the future, as well as other serious conditions like diabetic foot ulcers.
Labour wants to tackle this by halting the rise in Type 2 diabetes in the first term of government. It has argued for going further than the current government's decision to introduce a sugar tax, with other possible measures including a ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-18s.
The Department of Health and Social Care acknowledged the rise in foot and toe amputations, but said it had an "ambitious plan" to reduce diabetes through programmes of prevention aimed at children.
Written by Angela Newbury
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