Diabetes UK has welcomed a call from the Chair of a government spending watchdog for local NHS bodies to be compelled to deliver basic levels of diabetes healthcare.
On Tuesday 12 June, Margaret Hodge MP, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), told a hearing into diabetes healthcare in England that making basic levels of care mandatory was the only way to improve the current poor levels of care.
Speaking to the leaders of the NHS and the Department of Health, she said, "If you do not mandate around this you won’t get the action on the ground. That is what has been proved over the last 10 years."
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "There have been some improvements over the last decade in terms of us producing information about the quality of diabetes healthcare. But the fact is that the standard of care and the health outcomes for people with diabetes is unacceptably poor.
Frustrating lack of progress
"All too often, people with the condition have high cholesterol, high blood glucose and high blood pressure and there is a postcode lottery where in some area less than 10 per cent of people with diabetes get the basic levels of care. And yet the frustrating thing is that despite the all-too-obvious scale of the problem, it is still not being seen as a priority for the NHS.
"The chair and her colleagues on the committee seemed to share our frustration about the lack of progress in this issue and we look forward to seeing the PAC’s recommendations."
Four areas of improvement
Baroness Young was also one of the witnesses at the hearing, where she suggested that there are four areas where improvement is needed:
- Better early diagnosis and screening for Type 2 diabetes
- Universal education for people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Delivery of NICE-recommended standards for all people with diabetes and an end to the postcode lottery of delivery of these standards
- Ensuring that multi-disciplinary teams are operating at a local level.
Translate information to action
She told the committee, "There is a need to examine the priority with which diabetes is seen. More people are now being offered the nine care processes, but there is still an alarmingly large number of people who do not get their care processes.
"We should commend NHS Diabetes for the information that is being produced over the last couple of years. But how do we get to a point where this good information is translated into action?"
She also asked the PAC to recommend that the National Audit Office should look at diabetes again in two years to see whether progress had been made.
The proceedings of the PAC can be viewed onthe Parliament website.
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