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Why residents are having a limb amputated a week

PATIENTS with diabetes in Toowoomba and the Darling Downs are having limbs amputated at a rate of one every week, according to the region's leading health body.

Darling Downs Health has revealed 203 limb amputations were performed on more than 150 patients between July 2015 and May 2019, with the numbers increasing every year.

It comes after medical professionals called for better government investment into primary and preventative health measures and programs in the region, which has been known for having some of the worst rates of type-two diabetes and obesity in Queensland.

Toowoomba Hospital director of medicine Dr Sheila Cook said once patients were presenting with complications from diabetes, it was often to late to do anything but amputate.

"Darling Downs Health has one of the highest rates of limb amputations due to diabetes in the state," she said.

"The risk having a foot or leg amputated is increased when diabetes is undiagnosed or difficult to manage.

"If people don't have access to good foot care and diabetes services, the risk also increases.

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"When patients present to our hospitals with diabetes-related complications, sometimes their condition is too far advanced, and little can be done to save their limbs."

Dr Cook said DDH was working closely with community organisations to help people manage their diabetes and reduce hospital admissions.

"Earlier this year, we launched a new website (diabeteshub.com.au) to provide education, advice and management strategies for people living with diabetes," she said.

Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network CEO Merrilyn Strohfeldt said people should speak with their GP about managing risks associated with diabetes.


"We know from our Health Needs Assessment that our region has high rates of diabetes," she said.

"We also rank fourth Australia-wide for obesity and first for physical inactivity which are both significant risk factors for diabetes.

"We want to connect people with health professionals or programs that exist to help them improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

"This includes encouraging an investment of time to engage with their GP to discuss preventative health activities including cancer and diabetes screening, and generally looking after their wellness through eating well, exercising and self-care."


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