Suffolk diabetes patients suffer multiple episodes of foot disease at a “significantly higher” rate than the national average, a report has found.

Healthwatch Suffolk, which published the report, is calling for all diabetic patients to be warned of the risks of foot complications, after it emerged nearly a third had not been told.

National studies claim diabetes is “one of the biggest health challenges today” costing the health service an estimated £10billion a year.

It is also the leading cause of foot amputations in the UK, with recent figures suggesting up to 135 are carried out each week.

Suffolk, with its older population, is believed to have a higher incidence of diabetes than other parts of the country.

From 2011-2014, more than 700 patients in the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk regions were admitted to hospital for foot disease - leading to 71 “major amputations”.

While these figures are in-line with national averages, Healthwatch Suffolk’s Feet in Focus report said the proportion of patients having multiple episodes of foot disease was “significantly higher”.

The report, based on responses from more than 500 Suffolk patients, found diabetic foot care services in the county was “generally positive” with many reporting good experiences. Nearly all patients (93%) said their feet had been examined by a health professional in the past year.

But despite national guidelines, 32% of respondents said they were not told about the risk of developing a diabetic foot problems and 43% were not told what to do if one developed. More than a quarter said they were not given advice on looking after their feet.

Based on the report, patients across the East of England region will receive a new information card following their annual health check, containing guidance on what to look for in terms of foot health and who to contact if they have concerns.

Healthwatch Suffolk’s chief executive Andy Yacoub said while it was clear people are receiving good care in the county “there is room to improve”.

“It is our hope that the findings will be used to improve services in Suffolk and to build on continued developments within local services,” he added. Gerry Rayman, head of services at the Diabetes Research Unit at Ipswich Hospital, who worked on the report, said the survey should reassure people with diabetes that foot care in Suffolk is “of a high standard compared with the rest of the country”.

“It is also very helpful as it reveals areas in which we need to improve, in particular having people with diabetes know their risk of developing a diabetes foot complication and what to do in event of a complication,” Dr Rayman added.

Visit here to download the report.