You’re entitled to essential health checks – the care you need when you have diabetes. These checks will help to prevent serious diabetes complications, like problems with your feet, eyes, heart and kidneys.
Your annual review
When you have diabetes, you’re entitled to certain checks, tests and services to help you get the care you need. You’ll know this as your annual review, but you should have more than tests and checks.
There are 15 checks, tests and services you should be getting, so we call this package of care your 15 Healthcare Essentials.
During the coronavirus pandemic, most routine appointments like your annual diabetes review have been cancelled or postponed. You should be able to reschedule once things go back to normal.
Eye screening is still going ahead in some circumstances and for some people who are at higher risk of problems, such as pregnant women with diabetes. All eye screening clinics should be using personal protective equipment (PPE).
In the meantime, follow your current routine including checking your feet daily, keep to a healthy diet and try to keep active. If you spot something new you're concerned about, like a cut or blister on your foot, call your GP straight away and explain your situation. If you can't get through, call 111 for advice. If you have any change in your vision you should contact your local screening service or optometrist.
If you're already having treatment for something like a foot or eye problem, and you don't have coronavirus symptoms, then your appointments should still carry on. If you're worried about going to your clinic or hospital at this time or want to check whether your appointment is still going ahead, contact your diabetes team or call the number on your appointment letter. Take a look at our guide to going into hospital.
So what are these checks and services? Here’s the full list:
- Blood glucose test (HbA1c test)
- Blood pressure check
- Cholesterol check (for blood fats)
- Eye screening test
- Foot and leg check
- Kidney tests
- Advice on what to eat
- A free flu jab
- A chance to talk about how you're feeling
- Care from diabetes specialists if you need it
- A place on a diabetes education course
- Good care if you go into hospital
- Support with any sexual problems
- Help to stop smoking
- Specialist care if you’re planning to have a baby.
We've got more detail on each of your 15 Healthcare Essentials. You need to know what’s involved in these checks and how to manage things yourself too.
Working with your healthcare team
This care is given by your very own specialist healthcare team.
Together, they will:
- treat and monitor your diabetes
- reduce your risk of serious complications in the future
- work with you and give you a say in your care.
We’ve made a 15 Healthcare Essentials checklist you can print or download to help you get what you’re entitled to. Take it with you when you see your diabetes healthcare team so you can tick off what you’ve got coming up and chase up if anything’s missing.
At these checks, your healthcare team will work with you to agree your personal targets for the year ahead. This is for things like your HbA1c level, blood pressure and cholesterol. All these targets will be written down in a diabetes care plan.
Your healthcare team help you create this, but it’s important you understand what these target numbers mean and what you can do to keep them at an ideal level in between appointments.
Know your numbers between appointments
Having regular blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol checks helps your healthcare team pick up on important changes. This is so you can get the right advice or treatment you need.
But it makes all the difference if you’re in the know too. Be informed, know what checks you’re entitled to and keep a close eye on your test results. Write them down so you can see how things change over time. This will help you look after yourself between appointments.
What changes should you look out for yourself? How often do you need to have your eyes screened? What’s an ideal HbA1c level?
And it’s not just about looking after your body. It’s about getting emotional support and talking about anything you’re worried about too. You’ve got the right to talk about how you’re feeling with healthcare professionals who specialise in this kind of support.
If you’re not getting all your essential checks
If you’re not getting these essentials, have to wait too long between appointments, or aren’t happy with your care, contact your doctor or call our helpline for advice.