New figures show that not nearly enough people newly diagnosed with diabetes in England and Wales attend a diabetes education course, risking their long-term health.
Diabetes UK reports that, in 2014-2015, only two per cent of people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (103 of 5,442) and six per cent of those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (8,171 of 138,910) attended a diabetes education course.
Diabetes education courses such as DAFNE and DESMOND provide valuable information on how to stay as health as possible. But not attending these courses can restrict the knowledge and confidence patients have in managing their diabetes successfully.
Postcode lottery
The Diabetes UK State of the Nation report also revealed that more needs to be done by the NHS so there is less of a postcode lottery in the availability of education courses.
“In some areas thousands of people with diabetes have attended education courses that give them the confidence and skills to take control of their condition,” said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.
“They can be life-saving. So it is galling that in most places these courses have reached a fraction of those who could benefit.”
However, the charity revealed that the NHS offered an education course to 60 per cent more people in 2014-2015 than in 2012-2013, and the onus still remains on patients to attend these sessions.
Patients who do not have access to education courses are at greater risk of experiencing serious complications, such as heart disease and stroke, Diabetes UK added.
The increased burden of treating diabetes-related complications, which annually costs the NHS £10b, has led to one in six hospital beds being occupied by people with diabetes.
“The figures are alarming and confirm that diabetes is one of the fastest-growing health challenges facing the UK today,” said Izzi Seccombe, the Local Government Association’s portfolio holder for community and wellbeing.
“We need to increase awareness of the risks, bring about wholesale changes in lifestyle, improve self-management among people with diabetes and improve access to integrated diabetes care services.”
Another findings from Diabetes UK’s report was that only one third (72 out of 208) of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that responded to a freedom of information request had actually commission diabetes courses. All CCGs are meant to do this.
Time off
A 2015 report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, “Taking Control: Supporting people to self-manage their diabetes”, stated: “Many courses require substantial time off work during the week which was a major disincentive to attendance as people did not wish to use up annual leave to attend, had caring responsibilities during this time, or could not secure time off from employers.”
Benedict Jephcote, Head of Diabetes Education at, said: “Finding time to attend diabetes education courses in person appears to be a barrier. If patients can find time, the courses can be very beneficial.
“The barrier is a reason why has developed a number of online health education programs such as the Low Carb Program and the Hypo Training Program which patients, as well as carers and family, can work through at times that suit them.”

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