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New guidelines for diabetes testing will increase caseloads, says government

With the new NHS guidelines on diabetes diagnosis being issued to doctors this month, research by the coalition government suggests that this will increase the amount of cases by a fifth. Doctors have been instructed to change from their current testing method for those thought to have type 2 diabetes to using the HbA1c test.
This test has a cut-off point of 6.5 per cent for diagnosis of the condition, which means that diabetics with HbA1c levels of between 6.0 per cent and 6.4 per cent will be seen as having impaired glucose regulation and being at a high risk of developing diabetes.
The guidelines recommend that doctors take blood tests to measure HbA1c levels, and confirm a diagnosis for all those with levels of 6.5 per cent or more on two different occasions.
The guidance will be published later this month, and is endorsed by the Association of British Clinical Diabetologistsand the Primary Care Diabetes Society (PCDS), as well as the charity Diabetes UK. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is also expected to issue their decision this month about a potential review of its guidance on type 2 diabetes, which has been in place for the last three years.
Although the HbA1c test is more expensive than the oral glucose tolerance test, it is expected that patients will prefer this method, especially as it should offer an earlier diagnosis and help prevent more complications from the condition later in life.

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