The challenge of diabetes has been recognised since 2001, when the National Service Framework for Diabetes set out a vision for diabetes services in England to be delivered by 2013. We are now at 2012, and this vision is far from being achieved.
There have been some demonstrable improvements in services since the start of the delivery plan in 2003, with some good practice and effective interventions in place in some areas of the country. However, services are geographically very variable and there are still significant numbers of people with diabetes who do not have access to the agreed essential standards of care.
Between 2006 and 2011, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in England has increased by 25 per cent, from 1.9 million to 2.5 million. It's estimated that up to 850,000 people have diabetes but don't know it.
There has also been a huge growth in complication rates during this time. Diabetes is now the biggest single cause of amputation, stroke, blindness, and end-stage kidney failure. Diabetes is big, is growing out of control, and current spending accounts for around 10 per cent of the National Health Service (NHS) budget.
What's the solution?
- Increased levels of awareness of the signs and symptoms of diabetes and its serious consequences.
- Programmes of risk assessment and early diagnosis, to ensure that people aren't living for years with undiagnosed diabetes.
- Effective education for all people with diabetes, so ensuring they can effectively manage their condition.
- All people with diabetes to receive the agreed essential care standards to reduce complications, costs and premature death.
- Investment of the almost £10 billion currently spent on diabetes care more wisely to deliver the above and save heartache.
We are in a state of crisis. Ministers and the NHS need to recognise this, to prioritise prevention of diabetes and its complications. An implementation plan is urgently needed to deliver the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Quality standards and the National Standard Framework (NSF) Outcomes, for the sake of society, the NHS, the taxpayer and above all for people with diabetes and at risk of developing diabetes.
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