NHS failing to check diabetes patients

Thu, 31 Oct 2013
Many diabetes patients in England and Wales are failing to receive all eight of the basic diabetes health checks that should be provided on the NHS.

New figures from the National Diabetes Audit 2011-2012 reveal that less than half (43%) of patients with type 1 diabetes and 63% with type 2 actually received the full list of checks needed to help them manage their condition that year.

These include blood pressure and cholesterol checks, body mass index (BMI), foot checks, tests for kidney function and blood glucose control.

However, provision of diabetes care checks varied widely across England and Wales, with three in four (75%) of patients in the some postcodes getting the necessary checks compared with less than a fifth (20%) in other areas.

The audit of nearly 2.5 million people with diabetes found that over a quarter (27%) of those living with type 1 diabetes and two-thirds (66%) of people with type 2 diabetes met the recommended level for blood glucose levels - a decline from previous audit figures.

Over half (52%) of type 1 patients and 38% of type 2 patients who participated in the largest-of-its-kind research met the blood pressure target of less than 140/80, while recommended cholesterol levels of 4mmol/l were only achieved by 30% and 41% of type 1 and type 2 patients, respectively.

Overall, just 19% of patients are meeting all three targets for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, which are given to help reduce the risk of serious complications such as heart attack and stroke.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, which manages the audit in partnership with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), said it is "concerning" that there is still a considerable variation in the percentage of people with diabetes getting all eight essential health checks.

She added that other concerns raised by the audit are that people with type 1 diabetes continue to be less likely to receive the checks or to have their condition under control than those with type 2, while too few diabetes patients are attending education courses that can help them improve self-management of their condition.

"Overall, this report shows that in many areas, the NHS needs to do more to improve diabetes healthcare," Young continued. "It shows there has been a frustrating lack of progress and shines a light on why so many people with diabetes are developing complications and dying before their time.

"We hope that in areas where not enough people with diabetes are getting the checks they need or are successfully managing their condition, it acts as a wake-up call for clinical commissioning groups to make diabetes a top priority and to put in place an action plan to improve the situation."
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