The impact of swine flu among Britain’s 2.4 million diabetes patients may seriously disrupt NHS hospital and GP services, says the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists (ABCD).
The association reports that diabetes sufferers who contract swine flu are six times more likely to be hospitalised and significantly more likely to die.
Says former ABCD chairman Professor Ken Shaw: “The impact of these risks, and the way they are managed in hospitals and primary care, needs expert assessment as part of contingency planning at a local level.”
He fears that a swine flu pandemic may result in a 10-fold increase in the number of urgent new insulin starts.
In its plan for local diabetes services, the ABCD is calling for emergency teams to be on stand-by, and a review of what routine services should be suspended, perhaps for as long as four months.
At the same time, essential services must be safeguarded as staff - who are likely to suffer from greater levels of sickness themselves - are redeployed to other areas.
Meanwhile, it says, patient self-management is the key to a successful outcome, with careful blood-glucose self-monitoring, and adjusting treatment as appropriate.