Only one in five people with diabetes in England and Wales is reaching the targets for keeping their condition under control, according to a new analysis by Diabetes UK.
The analysis, based on data from the National Diabetes Audit, shows that 19.9 per cent of people with diabetes (all types) in England meet the recommended targets for blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol. In Wales, this figure is just 18.5 per cent.
For Type 1 diabetes the situation is even worse, with just 11.4 per cent of people in England with this type of the condition meeting the treatment target.
This is one of the main reasons for the high rates of diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure and stroke, and goes a long way towards explaining why 24,000 people with diabetes die early every year in England and Wales.
We want to see:
- A big increase in the number of people with diabetes who get the nine annual checks recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and are then given support to meet their treatment targets. At the moment just 54 per cent of people with diabetes in England are receiving the checks.
- The Government to hold poorly performing areas to account: there are some areas where fewer than 20 per cent of people with the condition are getting the checks.
- Delivery of structured education and care planning, so that people with diabetes are empowered to manage their own condition.
Diabetes healthcare an urgent priority
With the number of people with diabetes increasing rapidly, the UK faces a public health disaster unless the Government makes improving diabetes healthcare an urgent priority.
As well as diabetes-related complications having a devastating personal effect, they are also very expensive to treat. The NHS spends about £10 billion a year on diabetes – 10 per cent of its entire budget – and about 80 per cent of this goes on treating complications that could often have been prevented.
Public health disaster
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "Given that diabetes is serious, and can lead to early death if people with diabetes are not supported to manage their condition, it is extremely worrying that so few people have it under control.
"There are now 3 million people diagnosed with diabetes, and this number is rising quickly. The fact that so many of them do not have good control over their diabetes means that unless something changes we face a public health disaster. Whether these people have high blood glucose levels, blood pressure or cholesterol, they are at increased risk of diabetes-related complications such as heart disease, amputation, and stroke.
Education and support needed
"The high rate of preventable complications is the inevitable consequence of a healthcare system that has all too often not been good enough. This highlights the need for local services to put in place self-management support programmes to help people manage their diabetes well. At the moment there is virtually no access to the ongoing education and support to help people manage their diabetes and so help avoid complications and reduce their chance of early death.
Time to break the cycle
"It is time to break the cycle of poor diabetes management and poor health outcomes. By investing in the healthcare and ongoing structured education to enable people with diabetes to manage their condition, we can ensure they have the best possible chance of a long and healthy life. But this will not happen by itself. We need local services to take this seriously and to put in place the care that all people with diabetes deserve and we need the Government to finally make diabetes a priority and insist that everyone with the condition gets good quality healthcare."
We have produced the 15 healthcare essentials, which set out the healthcare that everyone with diabetes should be getting.