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Sunday 12 October 2014

NHS failure threatens lives of diabetics

BRITAIN is facing a public health time bomb because thousands of people with diabetes are not getting vital treatment they need, new figures reveal.

The research shows as many as 40 per cent of the 2.8 million diabetics in England and Wales are not getting essential health checks putting them at risk of life threatening complications including strokes, heart disease and lower limb amputations. 
The figures, drawn from the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Service, have led to calls for urgent action to improve health care for all diabetics to prevent a surge in complication rates which add to the burgeoning diabetic health care bill which currently stands at £10billion a year. 
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The NHS already spends 10 per cent of its entire budget on diabetes and this will rise even further if we do not get better at supporting people with the condition to stay healthy.
"This report should act as a wake-up call about the state of diabetes healthcare in this country which is unacceptable. There is an urgent need for the NHS to prioritise action to change this situation. We need GPs, hospitals and other care providers to improve the way they care for people with diabetes.
"It is also time for the Government and the NHS to take tougher action to demand those providing poor care come up to at least the national average to improve the lives of people living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.”
Vital checks include:
* Eyes – diabetes is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age due retinopathy. 
* Blood pressure - people with diabetes have a two fold increase of stroke within the first five years of diagnosis compared with the rest of the population.
* One quarter of hospital admissions for heart failure, heart attack and stroke are in people with diabetes.
* Foot checks – there are 6,000 leg, toe or foot amputations each year caused by diabetes in England alone. 
The research follows a previous report from Diabetes UK which reveals people with the condition are being denied the chance to monitor their blood glucose levels because vital test strips are being rationed to save money.
A survey carried out by the charity showed one in five people with diabetes had either been refused a prescription for blood glucose test strips, or had their prescription restricted.
This amounts to 58 per cent of people with Type 1 diabetes and 40 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes. 
An analysis by Diabetes UK showed a widespread variation on guidance on prescribing test strips with some areas of the country issuing arbitrary restrictions. 
This was born out by its survey which found almost a quarter of the people who said had their prescriptions restricted had been told by their GP that this was due to restrictive policies issued by local health managers. 
This is despite the fact that monitoring blood glucose levels is essential for people with diabetes to avoid potentially fatal diabetic hyperglycemia and over a long term serious complications such as amputation, blindness and stroke.
Barbara Young said, “Test strips are the most basic of tools for day-to-day management of Type 1 diabetes and insulin-treated Type 2 diabetes, and so it is very worrying that so many people are telling us they are having their test strips rationed because of cost-saving measures.”
Test strips should be a basic tool for non-insulin users too, given proper education on blood glucose monitoring the benefits could far outweigh the initial costs. 

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