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Hundreds of amputations each year amid diabetes crisis

Around 10 patients a week have a limb amputated as Scotland battles a diabetes and obesity crisis, it has been revealed.

Since 2014, there have been more than 2500 patients forced to have legs, toes, fingers and arms removed on the NHS.

It comes amid repeated warnings of a worsening obesity crisis, with more and more patients being treated for diabetes as a consequence.

The statistics were obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through Freedom of Information.

They show there were 2578 limb amputations in the past five years.

That includes 661 patients in 2016, and a further 579 last year.

In the first nine months of this year, there were 350 amputations recorded, though that figure is expected to be higher given not all health boards have processed this year’s information yet.

Scotland’s largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, recorded 754 amputations in the last five years.

That includes 370 toes and 354 legs. NHS Grampian carried out the second most procedures with 463 since 2014.

Across the UK, the number of diabetics is projected to increase by one million by 2035, while charities have repeatedly called for action to tackle childhood obesity in the hope it reduces the risk of developing the illness further down the line.

Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Annie Wells said:

“It’s now well-established that obesity is one of the biggest challenges facing our NHS.

“Of course, there are a number of reasons people can develop diabetes, but it’s also accepted that rising obesity levels will increase the rates of the illness.

“The fact hundreds of people each year are having to go through the trauma of limb amputation shows just how serious a problem this is.

“We need to see all agencies working together to ensure the vital health education messages are getting through, especially to children, and that personal responsibility is brought front and centre.

“If this doesn’t happen, our NHS is going to struggle even more severely in future, and lives will be badly limited in the process.”



Notes to editors:


Below is the number of amputations broken down by year in Scotland:

2014 – 481

2015 – 507

2016 – 661

2017 – 579

2018 (to September) – 350

Total – 2578


Below is the five-year total, broken down by health board:

Ayrshire and Arran – 136

Borders – 5

Dumfries and Galloway – 16

Fife – refused to answer

Forth Valley – refused to answer

Grampian – 463

Greater Glasgow and Clyde – 754

Highland – 216

Lanarkshire - 252

Lothian – 440

Orkney – 10

Shetland – 13

Tayside – 521

Western Isles – 0


Total – 2826 (this total is higher as some health boards included figures for the full year of 2013, rather than the partial year of 2018).


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