Even fewer people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are receiving the recommended annual health checks, according to the latest National Diabetes Audit.
The National Diabetes Audit for 2014/15 was conducted by the NHS’s health and social care information centre (HSCIC). It compiled data from 1.9 million people in England and Wales with diabetes.
The audit found that, among people under the age of 40, only 27 per cent of those with type 1 diabetes and 40 per cent with type 2 diabetes received all eight recommended checks every year.
The annual checks people with diabetes should receive, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), include blood pressure, foot examination and HbA1c. However, the number of people receiving all eight tests each year has fallen to its lowest level in six years (2009-10), when HSCIC records began. 38 per cent of all type 1 diabetes patients received all eight checks, while this figure was 58 per cent for all people with type 2 diabetes.
Not receiving all eight recommended annual checks can increase the risk of patients developing diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease or stroke, and leading charity Diabetes UK has particularly criticised the results for those under 40.
Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is deeply worrying that such a low percentage of younger people with diabetes are receiving all eight of the vital care processes. Urgent action must be taken to ensure that younger people too are given the best chances of good health and don’t continue to be left behind.
“We know that young people may struggle to fit in getting the checks with work and a busy life. But it is vital that commissioners look at ways to enable more young people to have better access to the healthcare services that will help them to manage their diabetes on a day-to-day basis.”
In some parts of England and Wales, wide regional variations were evident in the levels of care received by patients. 24 per cent received all eight checks in certain areas, compared to 80 per cent in others.
Dr. Bob Young, clinical lead for the audit, said: “There continues to be wide regional variation in the care and treatment of diabetes patients. We recommend that clinical commissioning groups and local health boards support care providers to participate in the audit and provide forums for sharing best practice to improve underachievement.
“We would encourage patients to attend invitations for annual care process checks and work with care providers to achieve recommended treatment targets. Equally, we would ask GPs and specialist services to sustain focus on improving blood pressure and blood glucose control.”