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Health of 2.3 million patients at risk from NHS reforms

Diabetes UK today raised fresh concerns that the health of 2.3 million people with diabetes in England could be at risk under the Government’s controversial plans to overhaul the NHS.

The charity is calling for changes to be made to the Health and Social Care Bill as it moves to the House of Lords today to ensure people with diabetes do not fall through gaps in care that could open up in the market-based reforms.

Complex web of services

People with long term conditions like diabetes need a complex web of services joined up round their needs. We want a statutory requirement for the new NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups to report annually on how they are fulfilling their duty to promote integration of services to ensure healthcare providers work together in the best interests of patients. In particular, the new economic regulator, Monitor, needs to be given a stronger requirement to give integration of services priority over competition issues.

We will also be pushing for stronger amendments to be added to the Bill to make sure competition does not impact on integration of care by calling for guarantees to ensure people will be included in all decision about their care, and that patient groups are involved in the planning and shaping of wider healthcare services.

Vital integration

Diabetes UK Chief Executive, Barbara Young, said, "What matters in this debate is how these changes affect the patient. The issue is ensuring people have access to the care they need and services designed in a way that best suits them.

"People with diabetes already need at least 14 different NHS services. Getting it right means they can lead long and healthy lives. Getting it wrong could mean amputation, kidney failure, blindness and a shorter life.

"These proposals could create a more complex web of care with insufficient safeguards and a lack of accountability. People with diabetes tell us that they want local services joined up around their needs which work with them to take decisions. Philosophies about competition must not get in the way of this vital integration. We want to make sure the NHS Commissioning Board, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Monitor, the regulator, are held accountable so that people with diabetes don’t fall through the gaps."

Minimum level of care

People with diabetes need access to a range of healthcare services and specialists. This can include access to the GP, diabetes specialist team and dieticians as well as podiatry checks, retinal screening, kidney monitoring and cardiology checks amongst others. However, a recent audit revealed that two thirds of people with Type 1 diabetes and half of all people with Type 2 diabetes are already not receiving all the vital checks and services they need to stay healthy.

Diabetes UK is concerned that the number of people failing to receive these vital checks could dramatically increase under the Government’s new NHS reforms. The charity has launched its 15 measures campaign which outlines the minimum level of care people with the condition should expect from their health service, and encourages and supports people who are not receiving their checks to address the issue with their healthcare team.

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