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MPs criticise state of diabetes healthcare

Too many people with diabetes are developing complications because they are not receiving the care and support they need, according to a new report.

The report on diabetes healthcare in England by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Government’s value-for-money watchdog, has criticised the NHS for failing to deliver the recommended standards of care and in achieving treatment targets.

Risk of escalating costs

The PAC warns that unless the situation improves, there will be higher costs to the NHS as well as less than adequate support for people with diabetes.

The report also highlights how barely half of people with diabetes get the nine basic checks they need to manage their condition and less than one in five have the recommended levels of blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, leaving an unacceptably high number at risk of developing complications, being admitted to hospital and costing the NHS more money.  It also criticises NHS accountability structures for failing to hold commissioners of diabetes services to account for poor performance.

Postcode lottery of care

Diabetes UK has welcomed the new report and hopes it will spur the Government and the NHS into action on finally delivering improvements to diabetes healthcare.

Inadequate care

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said, “This report sets out how a postcode lottery of care has been allowed to develop that means too many people with diabetes are getting healthcare that is simply not good enough. Given all the increasingly strong evidence of inadequate care, we simply cannot understand why the NHS has sleepwalked into this situation.

“This has led to huge numbers of potentially preventable complications such as amputation and blindness and to many thousands of people dying before their time. This is a tragedy for those people and their families and the current approach is also a huge waste of public money, as diabetes-related complications are extremely expensive to treat.

Diabetes needs to be given a high priority

“It is baffling that the low priority the NHS has given to diabetes has allowed this situation to develop when there is nothing controversial about how to deliver quality healthcare. In fact, a National Service Framework that sets out what good care looks like has been in place for over a decade but has never been implemented. The time for action is now. We hope this new report spurs the Government and the NHS into finally giving diabetes the priority it deserves.

“Firstly, we need to focus on prevention of Type 2 diabetes, which is why we are pleased this report calls for the kind of public health campaign that has already proved effective for other conditions. We also need to get better at diagnosing diabetes because the sooner someone is diagnosed, the better their chances of living a long and healthy life.

Tailored education to self-manage diabetes

“Then as soon as they are diagnosed they should get the tailored education that gives them the tools they need to manage their condition. We also need to ensure they get the 15 Healthcare Essentials that set out what care they should be getting to help prevent complications and for the NHS to make diabetes healthcare properly integrated and underpinned by the kind of networks that have been so successful in improving cancer care.

Report calls for an end of inaction 

“Everyone agrees that this is the way to improve the situation. We just need for the Government to prioritise and monitor this happening and for the NHS to make it a priority to deliver. We hope this report finally leads to an end of the inaction that has existed. Unless there is urgent action on diabetes, thousands more people a year will be condemned to debilitating complications and early death.”

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