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Health atlas reveals prevalence of hypertension and diabetes

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The large differences in the proportion and treatment of people with diabetes and high blood pressure in England are unveiled in a new interactive online map.

Public Health England’s new online map – called Healthier Lives: Diabetes, Hypertension and NHS Health Check – includes information on the prevalence of the conditions and their complications, levels of care provided and the quality of care achieved in each area compared to the England average.

“We would like to think these new figures would act as a spur for the NHS and the government to set out urgently how they intend to improve diabetes healthcare”

Barbara Young

Data shows that treatment targets – which includes controlling hypertension, blood sugar and cholesterol – are being met for only one in three people with diabetes. It also shows that there is nowhere across the country which is meeting all three targets well, with the average is 36% and the best is 48%.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested this data will help doctors and nurses see “at a glance” where the problem areas are so improvements can be targeted.

Diabetes blood glucose check

He said: “This will not only benefit patients but also help to save valuable NHS funds.”

Management of the illness, prevention and care work such as foot checks along with attempts to meet treatment targets can help reduce the risk of future complications such as major amputations. Around 120 people with diabetes have a limb amputated each week.

Diabetes UK chief executive Dame Barbara Young said: “It is deeply worrying that there is a postcode lottery in diabetes healthcare and also huge variation in the proportion of people who have their diabetes under control.

Barbara Young

“We would like to think these new figures would act as a spur for the NHS and the government to set out urgently how they intend to improve diabetes healthcare,” she said.

“But this is just the latest in a long line of statistics that show that diabetes healthcare is hugely geographically variable and in many places is not good enough,” she added.

Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at PHE, noted that an estimated 10% of the population could have diabetes by 2034.

He said: “We know that there are already millions of people in the country with undiagnosed high blood pressure. We need to create a sense of urgency in dealing with these future health problems which are facing our communities.

Public Health England

John Newton

“Healthier Lives has been designed to help local areas understand their local picture and improve services. As we said last week, the NHS has a big role to play but the underlying causes need attention as well,” he added.

Martin McShane, director for people with long term conditions at NHS England, said: “Healthier Lives shows just how much potential there is to improve the impact of these and similar preventive services across the country.”

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