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Charity warns over lack of basic diabetes checks

A charity has expressed its concern that many diabetes patients are not being given essential health checks designed to prevent serious complications.

The proportion of patients in each region who receive all eight recommended annual health checks varies wildly across the country, Diabetes UK said.

In some places less than one in five people with the condition receive all eight checks recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence compared with 78% in other areas.

These assessments can prevent patients from developing “devastating” complications of diabetes such as amputation and blindness, a spokesman said.

The charity’s tool, Diabetes Watch, which enables patients to compare care in their area with surrounding places, shows that less than half of patients in 27 areas of England receive all of the checks.

At the other end of the scale there are 25 regions where 70% of patients receive all eight checks.

In mid Essex, just 18.5% of patients receive all eight checks, the charity said.

But in Stafford 78.3% of patients are getting the recommended levels of care.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is important that everyone with diabetes gets these checks at least once a year, so it is deeply worrying that the proportion having them varies so widely from area to area.

“Considering how they can help prevent devastating health complications such as amputation and blindness, having a fourfold difference between the best and worst performing areas is simply not good enough. If over 70% of people with diabetes in areas with significant health challenges are getting the checks then there is no good reason why this should not be happening everywhere.

“But as things stand, the postcode lottery of diabetes checks means many thousands of people are missing out on vital healthcare that has the potential to identify problems early enough for them to be treated.

“We want clinical commissioning groups that do not give these checks to enough people at the moment to set out how they plan to improve the situation and for the government to explain how it is going to ensure people with diabetes can be confident they will get good quality care, wherever they live.

“We also hope that by giving people with diabetes information about how care in their area compares to other areas, our Diabetes Watch tool can help empower them to hold their local NHS to account.”

:: To use Diabetes Watch visit http://diabeteswatch.diabetes.org.uk/

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for obesity and diabetes at NHS England, said: “The delivery of high-quality care for all those with diabetes is essential to avoid the potentially devastating long term complications of the disease.

“NHS England is working closely with clinical commissioning groups to help them provide effective integrated diabetes services for their populations.”

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