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Diabetes healthcare is in ‘crisis’ and threatens to ‘sink the NHS’

Report says a national plan on diabetes is urgently needed

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 14 May 2012

Diabetes healthcare in England has drifted into a ‘state of crisis’ with less than half of sufferers getting the minimum level of care needed.

The State of the Nation 2012 report, published today by Diabetes UK, reveals that there are some areas where just 6% of people with diabetes are getting the regular checks and services recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The report details how the large number of people not getting these checks has helped fuel a rise in rates of diabetes-related complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke, all of which dramatically reduce quality of life and can lead to early death. These complications account for about 80% of NHS spending on diabetes and are one of the main reasons that treating diabetes costs about 10% of the entire NHS budget.

The report also claims that the National Service Framework for diabetes which has been in place for 11 years has yet to become a reality.

It further calls on the Government to urgently deliver a plan to implement these standards; to introduce more effective risk assessment and early diagnosis so people can either avoid Type 2 diabetes or get the healthcare they need to manage the condition and avoid complications.

Among the issues highlighted in the report is the fact that a quarter of children and young people with Type 1 diabetes are only diagnosed when they already need emergency treatment; there are some areas where just half of people with diabetes are thought to have been diagnosed. In addition 40% of adults with the condition are not meeting their blood glucose targets and 85% of children.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We already know that diabetes in costing the NHS a colossal amount of money, but this report shows how in exchange for this investment we are getting second rate healthcare that is putting people with diabetes at increased risk of tragic complications and early death.

“Whether showing the number of children with Type 1 diabetes who are only diagnosed at accident and emergency or highlighting the thousands of preventable diabetes-related amputations performed every year, the report shows that diabetes healthcare has drifted into a state of crisis.

“It is a compelling case for change. Above all, the wide variation in standards of care shows the need for a national plan to be put in place for giving people with diabetes the kind of healthcare that can help prevent complications, as well as a greater focus on preventing Type 2 diabetes.”

She calls for a longer-term approach of investing in making sure people get the basic checks and services which she says will save money by reducing complications.

“This kind of approach is the only way to prevent what is a looming national health disaster. With the number of people with diabetes rising so rapidly, unless urgent action is taken now, this rising tide threatens to sink the NHS.”

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