DIABETICS have been urged to keep a close eye on their feet after figures showed an increase in the number of amputations being carried out as a result of the condition.

Public Health England data shows there were 186 diabetes-related amputations in East Lancashire from the years 2013 to 2016.

The figure represent a rise of seven procedures compared to the previous three-year period.

Meanwhile the Blackburn with Darwen health area saw 71 diabetes-related amputations between 2013, an increase of 20 procedures from the three years before.

It has prompted Diabetes UK to launch a ‘Putting Feet First’ campaign focused on helping people with diabetes look after their feet.

A survey by the charity found that almost a third of people (32 per cent) in the north west were unaware of the dangers of diabetes-related foot ulcers, despite being a leading cause of amputations.

Stephen Ryan, head of the north at Diabetes UK, said that diabetes-related amputations ‘devastate lives’.

He said: “While it’s positive that the majority of people in the North West are aware that an amputation is a complication of diabetes, it’s very worrying that so many don’t know the dangers posed by foot ulcers.”

The charity has urged people with diabetes to check their feet at home regularly, and if they have a foot infection, or an ulcer, to get urgent medical attention.

Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, who has type two diabetes, said he was ‘incensed’ by the figures.

He said: “Along with every other living diabetic, I worry about amputations.

“I am incensed by these figures and I put the rise down to local commissioners cutting diabetes services in half over a number of years.”

But NHS East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) said they have been working hard over the last year to ‘redesign and improve’ diabetes services in Pennine Lancashire.

Recently, the two CCGs and ELHT said they were successful in a bid to NHS England to support diabetes foot care, attracting additional funding of £211,646 across Pennine Lancashire.

A spokesman on behalf of both organisations said: “This will provide local GPs with a structured training programme called ‘Hands on Feet’, while in hospital services will received training in identification and screening.”