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World Diabetes Day: give people the support they need

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Diabetes UK is calling on the government and NHS to address low take-up of life-saving diabetes education courses. The charity suggests a target of at least one in two people with the condition taking part by 2020.

Today on World Diabetes Day 65 people in the UK will die early from the condition and hundreds more people face life-changing complications, such as amputation, blindness, heart attack and stroke, new analysis by Diabetes UK reveals, underlining the scale and seriousness of the diabetes crisis.

Such complications can often be avoided or delayed if people with diabetes are supported to manage it well. For example, research funded by public donations to Diabetes UK proved specialist eye tests were crucial for spotting tiny changes early, which can then be treated. As a result diabetes is no longer the leading cause of blindness in the working age population.

Understanding the condition and getting the care to which people are entitled is essential. Yet only a small minority of people with diabetes are currently going on life-saving diabetes education courses and are sometimes missing out on vital health checks.

What you can learn from diabetes education

Ross, who has Type 1 diabetes, said: “I went on a course because I had quite bad control. I fractured both my shoulders from really bad hypos. I think it’s actually in a weird way really uplifting. It builds you a lot of confidence, a lot of freedom to understand, and to manage it on your own. And to prevent the complications such as bad hypos, such as problems with your eyes and your feet as well. It’s five days out of your life and, well, it’s made some huge changes to mine already.”

In a little over a decade the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased by more than 1.5 million or 72 per cent, largely due to a rise in Type 2 diabetes. GP records show there are now nearly 3.6 million registered patients with diabetes aged 17 and older -an increase of 137,000 people in the last year alone.

The more you know about diabetes, the better

Diabetes UK’s chief executive, Chris Askew, said: “Diabetes is a killer. It’s a serious condition with serious, life-threatening complications. And it is the fastest-growing epidemic of our time. The more you know about diabetes, the better. Cutting your risk of developing devastating complications is crucial. You can talk things through with our specialist helpline team who really understand diabetes, and, make sure you’re getting all of the 15 vital checks and services you’re entitled to from the NHS.”

Diabetes UK’s Helpline, funded entirely with voluntary donations, offers free information and advice about diabetes and our trained counsellors explore emotional, social and psychological or practical difficulties. Calls and emails are answered Monday to Friday 9am–5pm, phone 0345 123 2399 oremail us.

To mark World Diabetes Day the charity is also publishing a new ‘State of the Nation’ report in Northern Ireland, and is supporting a Welsh Government funded campaign to boost take up of specialist eye tests (retinopathy).

Chris Askew continues: “Diabetes is set to rise dramatically in the next five years, so it is vital diabetes is more widely understood, and governments and health bodies listen and take action. Significant investment in diabetes care and prevention by UK and national governments and the NHS, begins to recognise the scale of the challenge. This needs to be sustained to provide enough effective care for everyone living with diabetes and tackling the rapid rise of Type 2. As a charity, we have ambitious plans to tackle the diabetes crisis. Our work is only made possible through the generosity of our supporters.”

View the story "World Diabetes Day 2016 - education, complications, Go Blue, Google Doodle - and a visit from the PM" on Storify
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