Senior Patient Having Consultation With Doctor In Office

An NHS study investigating the link between diabetes routine care delivery and non-Covid-19-mortality in people before and after the onset of the pandemic has found a reduction in routine care in England meant essential physical examinations were missed.

Regular checkups are required for people living with diabetes, as they are used to detect infections, cardiac problems, and other changes that could prove deadly to someone with the condition.

The research has shown that the move to remote forms of healthcare and less routine care means patients did not have vital examinations for the 12 months after the first lockdown. Only 26.5 per cent of the 3 million patients had a complete set of checks in 2020/21.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, the national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, and lead author of the study, links the rise in deaths due to a fall in care the previous year. Compared to a 15-week period during the summer of 2019, there were an extra 3,075 non-covid fatalities than those in 2021, a rise of 11%.

The study also found that foot checks, which must be done in person, saw the sharpest drop, falling by over 37%. Foot examinations should be performed at least once a year as they are used to find signs of neuropathy (nerve damage) caused by poor circulation.

The number of diabetes patients in England who received all eight care processes during the period studied also fell by 44.8%. Alongside foot surveillance, these include Urine albumin, BMI, blood pressure, smoking, cholestoral, HbA1c, and serum creatinine.

“This research highlights the importance of annual reviews and ongoing supported management for people living with diabetes to manage their condition well.

“The NHS made significant progress in increasing the number of people with diabetes completing all care processes before the pandemic, and data published last month suggests we are heading in the right direction again,” Professor Valabhji concluded.

This study was first published in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology

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