Published Monday, 11 June 2012
Diabetes UK launched the 'Putting Feet First' campaign. (© UTV)
Diabetes UK said as many as 80% of the 199 amputated lower limbs could have been saved.
It comes as Diabetes Week launches, with a focus on raising awareness of the complications that people living with the condition can encounter.
Iain Foster, National Director at Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said many people with diabetes are not aware of the risk of losing a limb.
He explained: "Diabetic foot problems arise from reduced circulation to the feet and damaged nerve endings in the feet and, so, a big part of bringing this to an end is giving people with diabetes information about how to look after their feet.
"The sad fact is that there are opportunities within the current healthcare system for problems to be detected early and treatment obtained before complications become insurmountable.
"Quality of care makes a big difference to amputation rates. Foot ulcers can deteriorate in a matter of hours so failing to refer someone quickly enough can literally be the difference between losing a foot and keeping it."
There are 73,500 people diagnosed with diabetes in Northern Ireland.
Diabetes UK encouraged them to have their feet checked annually.
Sam Wright from Conlig in Co Down, who was diagnosed with type two diabetes 10 years ago, said he might have avoided losing his leg if he had gone for regular checkups.
"In March 2009, my life changed forever," the 56-year-old explained.
"This is when my left leg was amputated, just below the knee, in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. I spent the next five months in a wheelchair, waiting to be admitted to Musgrave Park Hospital Limb Centre, to be fitted with an artificial limb.
"All this could possibly have been avoided if I had seen a podiatrist on a regular basis.
"I can't emphasise enough the importance of foot care and would encourage anyone with diabetes to see a podiatrist on a regular basis - to stop these disasters occurring."