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Five things we want to see in the Comprehensive Spending Review

On 27th October, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, set out the Government’s spending priorities for the next three years. We’ve been working hard to influence the Government to make sure that diabetes is a top priority, as part of our Diabetes is Serious campaign.  


We've submitted a representation to the UK Government on areas we believe should receive investment in the Comprehensive Spending Review. Our Senior Campaigns Officer, George Stanbury, has sets out five crucial things that we've called for to ensure diabetes care, support and prevention is given the attention it needs and deserves. 

1. Diabetes care needs enough highly-trained staff

The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many people with diabetes have had difficulties getting the care they need. Our latest research, carried out in June, shows that a third of people with diabetes were waiting on a cancelled appointment to be rescheduled, and it was recently found that there were 68,500 missed or delayed diagnostic tests for type 2 diabetes.  

To get diabetes care back into full swing, and to manage the backlog of missed appointments and checks, we need NHS staff who understand diabetes. We also know that there are currently 4.9 million people in the UK living with diabetes, which is predicted to increase, so it’s really important there’s a plan to make sure there’s enough staff to provide top-quality care. The UK Government has already said it will hire 50,000 more nurses, but they need to make sure enough of these are trained to be Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs). 

We’re calling on the UK Government to develop and fund a long-term strategy for the NHS workforce to build back from the pandemic and provide excellent care. We’re doing this as Diabetes UK but also working in coalition with the Richmond Group of health charities. 

2. Improving access to diabetes tech

Diabetes tech can be life-changing. Not only does it help people to better manage their diabetes, but it can also make managing diabetes that little bit less overwhelming. 76% of people who used diabetes tech agreed that it improved their wellbeing.  

Diabetes tech also helps to support healthcare staff and clinicians, who can have access to more data about a person’s diabetes management. In a time where many appointments are taking place virtually, this information is important for providing high-quality care that is tailored to individual people.  

We know that diabetes tech is being used more and more, but we need the UK Government to provide funding to go further and faster. The pandemic has proved more than ever the benefits of diabetes tech, so we’re calling on the UK Government to provide local areas with ring-fenced funding to increase access to diabetes tech for those who can benefit from it.  

3. Improved mental health support for people with diabetes 

The pandemic has impacted on everyone’s mental health, but for people with diabetes, this impact has sometimes been particularly severe. Our survey showed that more than a third of people (35%) experienced poor mental health during the pandemic because of their diabetes.  

We hear all too often that the mental health support available doesn’t recognise the relationship between mental health and long-term health conditions like diabetes. Making sure there’s enough specialist mental health staff in diabetes care would give more people access to expert mental health support and provide better outcomes for people with diabetes who experience mental health issues.

We’re calling on the UK Government to invest in the diabetes mental health workforce and to train healthcare professionals working with people with diabetes to understand the connection between their mental and physical health. 

4. Type 2 and obesity prevention and supporting weight management 

There are a number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes, but the factor that is most able to be modified is obesity. The Government recently announced that type 2 diabetes and obesity prevention would be a priority for the NHS over the coming years, which is excellent news, but we need them to go further and faster.  

We are asking the UK Government to carry on its work to create a healthier food environment, by encouraging retailers to sell healthier foods and strengthening the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL), sometimes known as the sugar tax.  

Additionally, providing better services to support people to maintain a healthy weight is incredibly important. Continued investment in programmes such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme and weight management services are key in ensuring fewer people develop type 2 diabetes and supporting all those living with diabetes to maintain a healthy weight.  

5. Reducing inequalities in diabetes care and prevention  

The UK Government has said it wants to ‘level up’ the country and tackle health inequalities. This is positive, but to make sure this happens, it needs to work to eliminate inequalities in diabetes care and outcomes.  

People of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent are two to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white Europeans, while Black African and Black Caribbean people are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to develop the condition. We also know that people from ethnic minorities are less likely to have received vital diabetes checks throughout the pandemic, which are important in supporting people with diabetes to live well with the condition.  

Health inequalities are complex, and reducing them will require work from across UK Government. We’re working with others in the sector to call for a cross-government strategy to tackle health inequalities, so everyone can get the diabetes care they need.  

Support our campaign

We’ll report back at the end of the month about what the Comprehensive Spending Review means for people with diabetes, but in the meantime, please support our Diabetes Is Serious campaign.

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