Missed checks, disrupted care and health inequalities have been revealed in our new report looking at the state of diabetes care in England.
We are calling for urgent action to address the routine diabetes care backlog and prevent avoidable deaths of people living with diabetes.
People with diabetes can expect to receive routine diabetes care, which includes a series of checks every year for things such as blood sugar and blood pressure. Receiving all of these checks is shown to reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease, hospitalisation and premature death.
Our new report, ‘Diabetes Care: Is it fair enough?’ reveals that less than half (47%) of people living with diabetes in England received all eight of their required checks in 2021-22, meaning 1.9 million people did not receive the care they need.
Anthony Parker, 44, from Berkshire, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 34 years. He said:
“Back in January 2020 I was due a check-up, but the appointment was cancelled and moved to March for a telephone appointment. This happened again and again, and I didn’t receive any further communication about appointments after that.
“I believe the lack of contact and support contributed to me developing retinopathy as I didn’t have an eye appointment for two years.”
We are also concerned that there are stark health inequalities across England, with people from the poorest areas struggling most to access vital services. One in three people in the most deprived areas found it difficult to contact their diabetes healthcare team in 2022, compared to one-in-four in the least deprived.
Diabetes-related deaths are up by 7,000 a year compared to pre-pandemic levels, and we fear this increase may be linked to the backlog in routine diabetes care caused by the Covid-19 pandemic when services faced huge disruptions.
Too many people ‘left to go it alone’
We have set out a series of recommendations for how this care crisis can be tackled. We are calling for:
- A focus on diabetes in the government’s Major Conditions Strategy, including plans to tackle the backlog in diabetes care, reduce health inequalities and provide more support to help people lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- A fresh commitment from the government to implement its stalled obesity strategy in full and without further delay, including restrictions on junk food marketing
- Commitments in the plans of every Integrated Care Board in England to address the backlog in care, inequalities in access to care and to put type 2 diabetes prevention at the heart of their strategies.
Chris Askew OBE is Chief Executive of Diabetes UK. He said:
“Diabetes is relentless, and people living with diabetes need the close support and monitoring of healthcare professionals. This routine care can be lifesaving, and help prevent other serious complications such as amputations, strokes and heart disease.
“Yet far too many people with diabetes are being left to go it alone managing this challenging and potentially fatal condition, with deeply alarming numbers of checks either missed or delayed.
“We know health professionals are working incredibly hard to give people the care they need, but they are just too stretched to provide the time and personalised support that is required – and it’s having a catastrophic impact. The government must commit to tackling this diabetes care crisis in its Major Conditions Strategy, while local health systems should make it a priority in their plans.”
We are launching this new report as part of our Diabetes Is Serious campaign in Parliament on Wednesday 10 May.
If you have not been invited for your annual diabetes checks in more than a year, then contact your diabetes team or GP surgery right away.