An audit of the NHS has indicated that fewer diabetics are receiving critical health checks.
Every diabetic is recommended to undergo eight such checks every year.
Yet the NHS is failing to deliver this number in many cases, and this is making people suffering with diabetes more vulnerable to a deterioration in their condition.
The study, conducted by the NHS’ health and social care information centre (HSCIC), found that the number of tests being carried out has fallen to its lowest level since records began six years ago.
This should be considered particularly serious considering the increased awareness of the health risks associated with diabetes, and the epidemic that is now prevalent in the United Kingdom.
Indeed, the estimated cost of diabetes to the NHS is £10 billion annually.
And with diabetics failing to receive sufficient support from the NHS, the study concludes that there are rising number of people in the UK at risk of suffering from a heart attack, stroke or limb amputation due to diabetes.
Fewer than two in five (38.7%) of type 1 diabetics underwent all of the eight tests during 2014-15 recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), while fewer than three in five (58.7%) of those with type 2 did so.
Both of these figures represent a diminution from last year.
Commenting on the figures, Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, suggesting that they painted a worrying picture of the way that diabetes was being treated in Britain.
In particular, Askew suggested that the results for under-40s were “deeply worrying” considering the decline in condition that can result if it is not spotted at an early age.
“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.”
The study discovered that the checking of BMI had fallen to its lowest level ever, which was also the case for urine albumin tests.
This latter technique is critical in identifying potentially fatal kidney disease.
Askew believes that this failing it should be considered especially serious.
“Not getting this check means people are less likely to find out they have kidney disease until it has already developed into an extremely serious health issue. Latest figures show that nearly 11,000 people in 2012-13 had renal replacement therapy, including dialysis and kidney transplants, as a result of their diabetes. This is a life-threatening complication, which has significant cost implications for the NHS as well as exacting a devastating toll on people’s lives.”
Diabetes is the fastest growing health threat of our times and an urgent public health issue.
Since 1996, the number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled.
If present trends continue, it is estimated that over five million people in the UK will have diabetes in the foreseeable future.