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Diabetes care "risks being overlooked" in new NHS organizations

New NHS organisations that are responsible for improving the health and wellbeing of their local populations and reducing health inequalities risk overlooking the need to improve diabetes care in their local area, according to a new report by Diabetes UK.

The report, which was supported by Novo Nordisk, reviewed 50 Health and Wellbeing Boards, the bodies meant to plan and coordinate health priorities for local areas, and found that too many of them did not recognise the priority and impact of the condition.

NHS Health Check

For example, only 54 per cent of the boards included information on the importance of the NHS Health Check for preventing Type 2 diabetes and the need to improve early diagnosis of the condition in their Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which is the document that sets out the health needs for their area. This would help to reach the 850,000 people who have Type 2 diabetes but do not know it and the 7 million people who are at high risk, so they can start getting the support they need.

Diabetes management

As well as this, only half of them mentioned the need to improve the management of diabetes in their Joint Health and Wellbeing strategies, which set out their health priorities. This is despite the fact that barely half (54 per cent) of the 3 million people living with diabetes in the UK are getting the nine National Institute for Health and Care Excellence-recommended checks they need to manage their condition. This is one of the main reasons for the high rates of diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure and stroke, which are personally devastating and expensive to treat.

Commissioning decisions

We are concerned as these strategies have a large influence over commissioning decisions across health and social care and so have the potential to play an important role in reducing the growth of the diabetes epidemic and improving diabetes healthcare, which the Government recently admitted was poor.

Addressing diabetes care

We want to see NHS England and the local Health and Wellbeing Boards use their influence to halt the continuing rise of diabetes and address the inadequate state of diabetes care. The expensive complications of diabetes will continue to be an increasing drain on the NHS both locally and nationally unless diabetes care is effectively prioritised.

Treating preventable complications

For example, about 80 per cent of NHS spending on diabetes goes on treating complications, which could often have been prevented, but there is not enough focus on helping people manage their condition. This is one of the reasons that diabetes accounts for about 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget.

"Huge influence over health"

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, "Health and Wellbeing Boards will have huge influence over health in their local areas, and so they have a great opportunity to help tackle the rising tide of diabetes. Our analysis suggests that in some cases this is an opportunity that is being missed.

Support and prevention

"The number of people with diabetes is rising at an alarming rate, but there is not enough priority given to preventing Type 2 diabetes. For those people who already have diabetes, the support they need to manage their condition is inconsistent and this is leading to devastating complications, premature death and massive costs to the NHS.

Prioritise diabetes healthcare

"We want to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups to help them deliver and prioritise improving diabetes healthcare so that everyone with diabetes, and those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes, get the good quality care they need to live long healthy lives."

"Dealing with diabetes"

Peter Meeus, UK/IRE Managing Director of Novo Nordisk, said, "Novo Nordisk has a 90-year heritage in diabetes and is at the forefront of innovation, education and collaboration in this area. We are delighted to have partnered with Diabetes UK on this report which sheds important new light on how Health and Wellbeing Boards are dealing with the growing burden of diabetes, and how they can address it in future."

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