Despite a steady improvement in the proportion of children with diabetes getting the recommended checks they need to manage their condition, an alarmingly high proportion of them are still getting substandard care, according to a new report published today.
The National Paediatric Diabetes Audit report, published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, reveals that just 16.1 per cent of young people aged 12 years and older are getting the seven annual checks that every child with diabetes should have.
The evidence that these seven health checks are not taking place for the majority, suggests that many children and their families are missing out on the chance to prevent health problems. This, combined with a lack of diabetes education for children and their families, is contributing to too many children displaying early signs of serious long-term complications.
The report shows that over a quarter of children with Type 1 diabetes aged 12 and over have blood pressure above their target – increasing their long-term health risks – and over seven per cent have early indicators of kidney damage. Alarmingly, over 14 per cent are already experiencing problems with their eyes, including blurred and partially blocked vision, which is worrying given that diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness.
Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “We welcome the fact that healthcare for children does seem to be getting better and we recognise that a lot of hard work has gone into making this happen. But the number of children and young people who are not yet getting the care they need is hugely worrying.
“There is evidence that children are experiencing problems with their eyesight or kidneys before they reach their 18th birthday. This is tragic and we have great concerns for their future health if they are already showing signs of complications at such a young age.
“There is an urgent need for the NHS to make the pace of improvement quicker, so that we get to a point where every child with diabetes is getting the care they need to give them the best possible chance of a long and healthy life. They should all be getting their annual checks, but also being offered education to give them the knowledge they need to manage their own condition. And when they reach adulthood, we need to make sure the transition to adult services is much smoother, as at the moment there are too many of them falling through the gap.
"Living with Type 1 diabetes is hard enough. It’s vital that good quality healthcare and education is in place across the country so that every child living with diabetes can get on with enjoying their childhood."