Diabetes UK today made a direct call for the Government to put diabetes at the top of the health agenda, as new figures from the Department of Health revealed that up to half of people with diabetes in England are missing out on the basic health checks recommended by NICE, the Government health watchdog.
The NHS Atlas of Variation in Healthcare, published today, reports that two thirds of people with Type 1 diabetes (68 per cent) and almost half of people with Type 2 diabetes (47 per cent) did not receive all the nine recommended healthcare checks between 2009 and 2010.
This shows no improvement from when the Atlas was first published in 2010, when it stated that 68 per cent of people with Type 1 and 49 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes failed to receive the relevant healthcare checks.
The level of care received also varied greatly depending on where people lived. People with Type 1 diabetes were found to be more than two-and-a-half times more likely to receive all their basic healthcare checks if they lived in some areas of England when compared to others. A similar figure was reported for people with Type 2 diabetes, where people living in some Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) were more than twice as likely as others to receive all the basic healthcare checks.
It is vital that people with diabetes receive all the nine NICE recommended healthcare checks and the education they need to help them manage their diabetes effectively.
The Atlas also reported a great variation in the number of people with diabetes having major lower limb amputations, with those in some areas being nearly four times more likely to undergo an amputation as those under other PCTs. This is of great concern, as diabetes causes 100 amputations a week, of which around 80 are potentially preventable.
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today, so the Government needs to stand up and make this their top priority. It is appalling that even after seeing similar results in last year’s report, people with diabetes are still not receiving the basic level of care that they need. This must change. People with diabetes need and deserve to receive high-quality care, regardless of where they live, so it is scandalous that we have to fight for this basic right.
"We must see change, and that’s why we’ve launched our new 15 healthcare essentials campaign to ensure people with diabetes receive the care they need to stay healthy. There is no reason why people with diabetes cannot live long and healthy lives if they have access to high-quality care. We will be holding the NHS to account wherever it fails to deliver high-quality diabetes care."
The nine NICE recommended healthcare checks for people with diabetes include measurements of HbA1c, cholesterol, creatine, micro-albuminuria, blood pressure and BMI; a record of whether or not the person smokes (or has ever smoked); and eye and foot examinations.
We believe that healthcare checks are important, but on their own they are not enough. People with diabetes also need access to specialist support, co-ordinated care, structured education and emotional and psychological support. This is why we have introduced our 15 healthcare essentials campaign to ensure people with diabetes are receiving all the relevant care they need to effectively manage their condition.