Diabetes-related Amputations continue to rise 2015

  • Diabetes related amputations continue to rise in 2015
  • 60% of all amputations are diabetes related
  • 1,948 people with diabetes hospitalised for foot ulcer treatment, up 250 year on year
  • 9 HSE Community based Podiatry posts left unfilled
  • “Not Good Enough” says Diabetes Ireland    

Latest data shows that 2,400 people were hospitalised in 2015 as a result of diabetes related footcare complications, with 451 of those requiring lower limb amputation surgery.

Recent HSE figures released to Deputy Roisin Shortall TD, showed that the number of people with diabetes receiving lower limb amputation surgery increased from 443 people in 2014 to 451 in 2015, with a further 1,948 (up from 1,697 in 2014) people with diabetes requiring hospital in-patient treatment for foot ulceration spending on average 14.5 days in hospital.   More worryingly, around 950 of these patients were under 65 years of age and of working age.

Roisin Shortall TD said “it is frightening to see the number of diabetes patients requiring hospitalisation for foot ulceration treatment as research has shown that foot complications are almost completely preventable by regular screening of diabetes patients and by early intervention by podiatrists in those requiring urgent in-depth treatment”.

Lower limb amputation is one of the preventable potential complications of long term poorly controlled diabetes. However, due to continued under-resourcing of podiatry services, there is inadequate specialised early screening and thus the lack of early intervention in patients who require it.

Despite the introduction of a National Diabetes Footcare programme by the HSE in 2010, a service that today employs 22 podiatrists, numbers of amputations continue to rise. “We are not even stemming the number of diabetes related amputations and in-patient foot ulceration treatment year on year. The 2016 HSE Service plan provided funding for 9 further community podiatrists to be employed this year. Not one of those posts have been filled to date and it’s simply not good enough” said Professor Hilary Hoey, Chairperson, Diabetes Ireland.

RTE’s Celebrity Operation Transformation programme highlighted Paul Kenny, a patient who has undergone a diabetes related lower limb amputation. Paul’s message to all people with diabetes is   “don’t pretend it’s not there. I ignored my diabetes and did not take it seriously, I now regret that and I am urging people not to make the same mistake I did. Make sure you manage your condition as best you can”.

Dr Ronan Canavan, Consultant Endocrinologist, St Vincent’s & Loughlinstown Hospital said “Ireland still has one of the lowest manpower levels of specialist podiatrists working in diabetes in Europe.  There are significant parts of the country which do not have this service despite an urgent need. We need around 120 podiatrists around the country providing local screening and early intervention to the diabetes community.

An Irish Study showed that the average inpatient hospital treatment of a diabetes related foot ulcer is €30,000 and based on this, the cost to the HSE of treating 451 diabetes related lower limb amputations was over €13.5m in 2015. Add that to the cost of treating a further 1,948 diabetes patients admitted to hospital for foot ulceration treatment and we are looking at a total cost to the HSE of over €71m in 2015.

A 10% reduction of diabetes patients requiring inpatient foot ulceration treatment would save the HSE around €7m per annum. Other costs savings such as long term social welfare costs, housing alteration costs etc also need to be added to this figure making further cost savings for the Exchequer.

“We have basic grade podiatrists qualifying out of college every year looking for employment and further investment in community based diabetes foot care will go a long way to reducing the hospital treatment cost.  If we can identify at community level those at moderate risk of developing foot ulceration and ensure they are put under active surveillance by a podiatrist we can reduce these costly diabetes complications. It makes economic sense to expand the programme as the foot complications of diabetes and the associated risk of amputation are preventable with regular foot examination, regular podiatry screening and rapid access to footcare specialists for the urgent cases” added Professor Hilary Hoey.


Press Contact Diabetes Ireland would be happy to provide interviewees for TV, radio & press. Please contact Joan Moloney on 01 842 8118 and she will arrange the appropriate interviewee.

About Us

Diabetes Ireland is the national charity dedicated to providing support, education and motivation to all people affected by diabetes. We raise public awareness of diabetes and its symptoms and fund Irish-based research into diabetes.

Amputations Case Study as seen in Celebrity Operation Transformation

Please review the recent press release “Don’t Pretend it’s not there” containing the real life experience of Paul Kenny.

 More Information

The most common cause of hospitalisation among patients with diabetes is diabetic foot disease (ulcer, infection, deformity, advanced neuropathy and amputation). These are the most costly complications of diabetes.

Foot disease affects mobility, quality of life and is associated with a high risk of lower limb amputation. The risk of amputation in a patient with diabetes is 20 to 40 times higher than a non-diabetic patient.

HSE Sanctioned Community Podiatry Posts 2016

  • Roscommon- 1 Senior Podiatrist
  • Limerick- 1 Senior Podiatrist
  • Waterford- 1 Senior Podiatrist
  • Dublin- 3 Senior Podiatrists (1 in North Central, 1 in South Central and 1 in West Dublin).
  • Wicklow- 1 Senior Podiatrist
  • Westmeath – 1 Senior Podiatrist
  • Louth- 1 Senior Podiatrist