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Thousands of people across the UK at increased risk of complications

Monday 12 September 2011

Thousands of people with diabetes across the UK are at an increased risk of complications because they are not being given the full range of essential healthcare checks.

More than half a million people in England are at increased risk of blindness because they have not received retinal screening, an essential annual check which tests for eye disease (diabetic retinopathy). Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in the country’s working-age population. In Wales alone, 27,000 people failed to receive this check.

Fifteen essential health checks

Retinal screening is one of a checklist of 15 healthcare essentials (PDF, 65KB) that we have developed to help people with diabetes understand what health checks they should receive to help them manage their condition.

Recent figures show that people with diabetes are also not receiving other essential annual checks. In Scotland, 56,000 (one in four) people with diabetes have not been given a simple check for nerve damage (neuropathy), a complication which can lead to foot amputation. In Northern Ireland there are nearly 6,000 people who have not received this test for neuropathy.

Early identification and appropriate treatment

Barbara Young, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said, "Diabetes is a serious condition which can lead to devastating long-term complications including blindness, kidney failure and amputations. The tragedy is that, for example, 90 per cent of cases of sight loss could have been avoided if they had been identified early enough and treated appropriately.

"The 15 healthcare essentials will help ensure people with diabetes are getting the care they need, and if they’re not, Diabetes UK wants people to use the checklist and ask for the standards of care that have been recommended by expert bodies and patients across the UK. With the right care and education, there is no reason why people with diabetes shouldn’t live long and healthy lives."

Diabetes Watch

The 15 healthcare essentials are part of Diabetes UK’s Diabetes Watch campaign, a programme to monitor and highlight standards of diabetes care across the UK, and to support people with diabetes to get access to the right standards of care. We want people to use the checklist and, if there are any gaps in care, raise the issue with their healthcare team.