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Health and wellbeing boards lack focus on diabetes care

Opportunity to improve preventive care being missed, Diabetes UK warns

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

New health and wellbeing boards, which are responsible for setting health priorities for local areas are not recognising the need to improve diabetes care, according to a report by Diabetes UK.

The report, which was supported by Novo Nordisk, reviewed 50 health and wellbeing boards and found that many of did not recognise the impact of the condition and the priority it should be afforded.

Only 54% of the boards included information on the importance of the NHS Health Check for preventing type 2 diabetes and the need to improve early diagnosis of the condition in their Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which is the document that sets out the health needs for their area. This would help to reach the 850,000 people who have type 2 diabetes but do not know it and the 7 million people who are at high risk, so they can start getting the support they need.

Furthermore, only half of them mentioned the need to improve the management of diabetes in their Joint Health and Wellbeing strategies, which set out their health priorities. This is despite the fact that barely half (54%) of 3 million people living with diabetes in the UK are getting the nine National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-recommended checks they need to manage their condition. This is one of the main reasons for the high rates of diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure and stroke, which are personally devastating and expensive to treat.

About 80 per cent of NHS spending on diabetes goes on treating complications, which could often have been prevented if there had been a better focus on helping people manage their condition. In total NHS spending on diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "Health and Wellbeing Boards will have huge influence over health in their local areas, and so they have a great opportunity to help tackle the rising tide of diabetes. Our analysis suggests that in some cases this is an opportunity that is being missed.

"The number of people with diabetes is rising at an alarming rate, but there is not enough priority given to preventing Type 2 diabetes. For those people who already have diabetes, the support they need to manage their condition is inconsistent and this is leading to devastating complications, premature death and massive costs to the NHS.

"We want to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups to help them deliver and prioritise improving diabetes healthcare so that everyone with diabetes, and those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, get the good quality care they need to live long healthy lives."

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