Over 33% of areas in England do not provide patients with diabetes access to education, a Freedom of Information request by Diabetes UK has found.
The charity has said that improving care and education would prevent patients experiencing diabetes-related complications such as blindness, kidney failure and amputation. These complications account for as much as 80% of the NHS' £10 billion spend on diabetes each year. Additionally, approximately 24,000 people die early each year because of complications exacerbating their condition.
‘Diabetes education needs to be readily available everywhere, and commissioned along with a proper local system that explains to people with diabetes the benefits they will gain from attending an education course, and ensures that courses are well run,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.
‘With a record number of people living with diabetes, there is no time to waste in getting serious about providing better care and diabetes education,’ added Mr Askew. ‘Until this happens, the rising number of people with diabetes will continue to be denied the best chance of living long and healthy lives and the NHS will continue to be crippled under avoidable but escalating costs of treating poorly managed diabetes.’To improve the situation, NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK have created the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. The scheme, due to be rolled out in the spring, is designed to deliver behavioural interventions for patients judged as at risk of developing the condition.
‘Sadly, too many people suffer from Type 2 diabetes and its serious health consequences,' said Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England. ‘We must help prevent those at high-risk of developing it from doing so. The NHS diabetes prevention programme will help people make the lifestyle changes that lessen their risk – eating more healthily, being more physically active and achieving a healthy weight and waist size.’
The FOI request also revealed that 40% of people with diabetes are not getting the eight NICE recommended checks, which are key to identifying any problems early enough to prevent complications. A record 4.05 million people in the UK now live with the condition, an increase of 65% since 2015.