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Diabetes health care a 'postcode lottery'

AAP logoAAP 25/10/2016 Lisa Robinson

People in regional Australia are 11 times more likely to have diabetes-related amputations than those in metropolitan areas, research shows.

Every day 12 people have toes, feet or limbs removed because of diabetes, and 85 per cent of those amputations are preventable.

Outback Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and remote parts of the Northern Territory have the highest amputation rates, data from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care shows.

The lowest rates are on Sydney's north shore, Queensland's Sunshine Coast and east Brisbane.

Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson said the higher prevalence of diabetes in some rural and remote communities does not necessarily explain the difference in amputation rates.

Instead, it's more likely to be related to a lack of access to health services and co-ordinated care where people can get early intervention and prevent problems escalating into amputations.

"Certainly the biggest issue if you're in rural or remote Australia is you're missing out on many of the things that we might take for granted in the well-serviced metropolitan areas," Mr Johnson told AAP on Tuesday.

"If you live in leafy North Sydney you're probably able to access diabetes educators, podiatrists and the best hospital services in the country so that you can get the blood supply back and avoid having your foot or your toes cut off."

He said the data showed the need for a diabetes amputation prevention initiative, with a particular focus on regional and remote areas.

"We can prevent the majority of amputations through better risk assessment of people with diabetes, earlier intervention and optimal management of problems," Mr Johnson said.

"It is far more cost effective to provide prevention focused primary care than to go on amputating."

HIGHEST HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS FOR DIABETES-RELATED AMPUTATIONS PER 100,000 PEOPLE:

1. NT (Outback) - 91

2. Queensland (Outback) - 73

3. Darwin - 48

4. SA (Outback) - 40

5. WA (Outback) - 40

6. Cairns - 37

7. Illawarra - 35

8. Blacktown - 35

9. Darling Downs/Maranoa - 32

10. Townsville - 32

LOWEST HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS PER 100,000 PEOPLE:

1. North Sydney and Hornsby - 8

2. Sunshine Coast - 11

3. Brisbane East - 11

4. Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury - 12

5. Melbourne Inner East - 14

6. Brisbane Inner City - 15

7. Sydney Northern Beaches - 15

8. Mid North Coast - 15

9. Coffs Harbour/Grafton - 15

10. Adelaide Central and Hills - 17

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