It has been reported in the news this week, that Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay was diagnosed with sepsis last year, resulting in the amputation of both of his hands and both legs

He revealed that after becoming unwell in September 2023, he noticed that his arms felt cold whereby his wife could not feel a pulse and his hands started turning blue. He quickly went into septic shock and was placed into an induced coma for 16 days. Given only a 5% chance of survival, he eventually underwent a quadruple amputation on 1 December 2023, involving two below elbow amputations and two below knee amputations.

Sepsis is a life threatening condition that occurs when your body responds improperly to an infection. It can lead to amputation in several ways: 

  • By damaging the nerves that control the limbs which can lead to loss of sensation and / or paralysis.
  • By causing blood clots which prevent blood supply to the limbs and cause gangrene and / or even death.
  • When the body’s nutrients cannot get to the tissues of the body, which cause the tissue in the body to die which can result in gangrene and / or death. 

Recovery and rehabilitation after amputations can take a number of months and adjusting to prosthetics is not straightforward. Selecting the appropriate prosthetic is also a complex process. Mr Mackinlay has indicated that adjusting to use his upper limb prosthetics has been the biggest challenge. 

While the NHS now offers a number of different prosthetic solutions, it still lags behind the ever evolving world of prosthetics and it cannot match the sophistication of private options. For example the TASKA Hand and the Michelangelo are both below elbow prosthetic solutions available privately, that offer varied grip features, allow better control and require less effort in carrying out the more delicate tasks. 

In sharing his experience, Mr Mackinlay has indicated he will campaign for improved prosthetic provision on the NHS. This would undoubtedly be a welcome step for patients and insurers alike, given the significant cost of prosthetic provision. 

Mr Mackinlay was in the fortunate position of being able to self-finance his new prosthetic limbs but others will not be as fortunate. Given the significantly higher costs of these more advanced prosthesis and the limitations of NHS procurement, it may be some time before we see the more advanced prosthetics being available through the NHS. 

Mandeep Chahal-Dhillon is a Senior Associate Solicitor at Clyde and Co and a member of the Amputation Subject Matter Group. For further information, please contact the Clyde and Co Amputation Subject Matter Leads, Tony Cawley and Ben Jones.