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Less than 50% of diabetics achieve blood pressure targets

Experts worried about variable quality of diabetes care

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Less than half of people with diabetes are meeting the blood pressure target of less than 140/80 set for the 2.3 million patients with diabetes in England and Wales.

There is also worrying variations in how many people achieve the 140/80 blood pressure target when comparing between different CCGs in England and local health boards (LHBs) in Wales.

The National Diabetes Audit 2011-2012, published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) records the three NICE recommended treatment targets – glucose control, blood pressure and serum cholesterol – that should be monitored and met for patients with diabetes.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease and most people with type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure, hence the need to control it.

The National Diabetes Audit, the largest of its kind in the world, includes findings for the care of almost 2.5 million people with diabetes. It is managed by the HSCIC in partnership with Diabetes UK and is commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP).

The 2011-2012 audit includes data recorded by 88% of GP practices across England and Wales.

For all patients with diabetes that participated in the audit, blood pressure targets of 140/80 were achieved in 48.1% cases, slightly higher than the 2010-2011 achieved rate of 44.6%.

The audit shows that some CCGs and LHBs meet the blood pressure target in 53% of cases but in others it was met in less than 44% of cases.

More than half of patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes did not receive all diabetes checks (56.8% or 117,800 out of 207,570) and over a third of patients with type 2 diabetes did not receive all checks (37.4% or 819,980 out of 2.2 million).

Younger patients were less likely than older patients to receive all of the annual checks and the audit found just over a third (34%) of patients aged 20 to 29 years received all checks.

Dr Bob Young, clinical lead for the audit, said: “Today's audit shows how much scope there is for reducing heart disease and stroke in people with diabetes by achieving the blood pressure treatment target more often.”

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said it was concerning that there was still considerable variation in the percentage of people getting the checks they needed to help them manage their condition.

“We are also continuing to see a worrying trend where people with type 1 diabetes, in particular, are less likely to get the checks or to have their condition under control than people with type 2, and this needs to be tackled by designing systems of care that meet the needs of this often overlooked group,” she said.

“Overall, this report shows that in many areas, the NHS needs to do more to improve diabetes healthcare. We hope that in areas where not enough people with diabetes are getting the checks they need or are successfully managing their condition, it acts as a wake-up call for CCGs to make diabetes a top priority and to put in place an action plan to improve the situation.”

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