Government and NHS too slow to act on diabetes, says MPs

Posted by JOrchard on 22 January, 2016

MPs have criticised the Department of Health and the NHS in Englang for being “too slow” to act in preventing and treating diabetes.

A report done by the Public Accounts Committee says variations in the care of both type 1 and 2 diabetes mean the annual cost to the health service will continue to rise. The bill for people aged 16 and over currently stands at £5.5bn a year.

An NHS England spokesman said "diabetes care [was] better than ever”. But he also said the obesity-fuelled jump in type 2 diabetes threatened to "overwhelm GP services”.  "...[It] puts the spotlight firmly on the need for no-holds-barred national action on prevention by the NHS, government, employers, schools, and in particular the food industry," he added.

Not Keeping Pace

The committee said the number of adults in England with diabetes has risen to more than 3 million, and continues to go by almost 5% every year. The government and NHS England had portrayed an “unduly healthy picture” of the state of diabetes services, it added.

At the moment, most of the £5.5bn a year cost is spent on complications from diabetes, such as heart and kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage, leading to amputations. All of this can be minimised by making sure that the disease is caught early, managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.

In addition, only 60% of patients receive the annual checks that are recommended to keep them healthy and prevent long-term complications. The report also states that diabetes specialist staffing levels in hospitals  “are not keeping pace” with the increasing percentage of beds occupied by diabetes patients.

Targets Not Met

It said: "The percentage of beds in acute hospitals in England occupied by people with diabetes continues to rise, from 14.8% in 2010 to 15.7% in 2013.

"However, the level of diabetic specialists has not significantly changed over this period. In 2013, nearly one-third of hospitals in England taking part in the audit had no diabetes inpatient specialist nurse and 6% did not have any consultant time for diabetes inpatient care.

"NHS England told us that an increase in nursing numbers isn't likely in the next year or two.

Chairwomen of the committee, Meg Hillier said: "The NHS and Department for Health have been too slow in tackling diabetes, both in prevention and treatment.

"The number of people with diabetes is increasing, as is the number of patients who develop complications. It is a very serious condition that can have a huge impact on people's lives."

She said taxpayers must have confidence that support is available when and where they need it, "rather than by virtue of where they live".

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