In over a third of areas in England, the NHS is not commissioning education courses for everyone with diabetes, a freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed.
National guidance recommends that all Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the NHS bodies responsible for planning healthcare, commission specific courses for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, of the 208 CCGs that responded to Diabetes UK’s FOI request, 72 said they do not do this.
Lack of education can lead to complications
This is leading to people not understanding how to manage their condition and, in the long term, is resulting in high rates of devastating but potentially avoidable complications such as amputation, blindness and stroke.
Beyond the human suffering, these complications place a costly burden on the NHS.
But education courses can provide people with the skills and confidence to manage their condition well and potentially avoid developing complications.
For this reason, we have warned that unless the NHS commits to commissioning diabetes education universally, spending on diabetes-related complications that happen as a result of poorly managed diabetes will continue to put great pressure on the NHS.
Taking Control campaign
As we launch our new campaign calling for everyone with diabetes to get education to help them manage their condition, we are highlighting that the failure of many areas to commission education courses for everyone with diabetes is one of the main reasons why only 3.6 per cent of people newly diagnosed with diabetes in England are receiving an education course.
The campaign is calling for education for all people with diabetes to be commissioned everywhere, along with a proper local system that explains to people with diabetes the benefits they will gain from attending an education course, and ensures that courses are well run.
Education vital to diabetes management
Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “This is worrying news because it shows that local NHS bodies are routinely failing to commission diabetes education services that are absolutely vital to enable people to manage what is a serious condition. This means that the rising number of people with diabetes are not being given the tools and confidence they need to manage their condition and to avoid costly complications such as heart disease, stroke and amputation.
“Most people with diabetes spend around three hours a year with a healthcare professional; in the remaining 8,757 hours, they manage their condition alone so we need to make sure we are giving them the knowledge to do so. We would not dream of letting someone drive a car if they had not learned how to do so, and yet we seem to think it is okay to expect people to manage a complex and potentially life-threatening condition without any structured education in how to do so.
“Until the NHS starts to provide diabetes education to all people with diabetes, people living with the condition will continue to be denied the best chance of living long and healthy lives."
Support our campaign
The ‘Taking Control’ campaign has launched today, ahead of World Diabetes Day on Saturday 14 November. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #TakingControl.
Find out more
To find out more about going on an education course, speak to your GP or healthcare professional.
To find out more about the ‘Taking Control’ campaign and to take action to ensure everyone with diabetes has access to diabetes education, go to www.diabetes.org.uk/taking-control
 208 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) out 209 responded to the FOI request from Diabetes UK.
 Reference: National Diabetes Audit 2012-2013.