Amputations due to diabetes have soared by a fifth as almost 30,000 people lost the lower part of their leg in three years.
Shocking new data shows the devastating condition leads to more than 176 leg, toe or foot amputations every week in England.
Analysis by Diabetes UK found there were 27,465 such lower limb amputations from 2015 to 2018, which was up 18.3% from 2011-2014.
Britain’s five million sufferers are at increased risk of developing problems in their feet because high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, affecting how blood flows to the feet and legs.
Problems with the feet arise from foot ulcers and infections can develop and deteriorate very quickly.
Diabetes is now responsible for eight in every ten amputations that need to be carried out on the NHS.
The charity is calling for the Government to deliver on a pledge to have a foot care specialist in every hospital.
Head of care Dan Howarth said: “Ensuring that multidisciplinary specialist foot care teams are in every single hospital across the country will not only significantly improve outcomes for people with diabetes, it will also cut down on long-term costs to the NHS.
“The differences in the standard of treatment between areas is unacceptable. An amputation, regardless of whether it’s defined as minor or major, is devastating and life-changing.
“A ‘minor’ amputation can still involve losing a whole foot.”
Diabetes is estimated to cost taxpayers £14 billion a year and has been dubbed the “biggest health crisis of our time”.
It can lead to serious health problems including blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations.
An estimated four million Brits have been diagnosed with diabetes, up from just 1.4 million in 1996.
Another million people are thought to be living with the condition but do not know they have it.
Nine in ten of patients diagnosed have Type 2 diabetes which is linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.
The huge increase is due to rising obesity rates.
Dr Rob Mannion, 73, Bournemouth, is suffering with charcot foot. He said: “Over the years, I’ve suffered from a number of foot care complications. But every time I’ve received absolute first class treatment, and this is partly due to my hospital having a multidisciplinary specialist foot care team.
“When I began to have issues with my feet, the team kept a very strict eye on me and have helped me every step of the way.
“Without their expertise and the consistent quality of care – things could have been a lot worse for me.”
One in six hospitals still do not have multidisciplinary specialist foot care teams (MDFT).
Diabetes UK is urging NHS England to deliver on its commitment made in the NHS Long-Term Plan to ensure the investment promised for developing diabetes foot care, is targeted so that all hospitals can provide access to a MDFT.
Dan Howarth added: “Especially as many diabetes amputations are avoidable through better quality care, we have to do better.
“To stop this upward trend in amputations, we are urging NHS England to stay true to their commitments and ensure people with diabetes have access to the specialist care and support they need.”