BRITAIN is sitting on a diabetes timebomb and health bodies are failing to tackle the growing crisis, experts said yesterday.
As the number of sufferers in the UK soars towards four million, a new report warns of “missed opportunities”.
The charity Diabetes UK claims local Health and Wellbeing Boards – set up under National Health Service reforms – risk overlooking the need to improve diabetes care in their areas.
Failing to address the growing numbers with the condition is said to be creating huge problems for the NHS and raising concerns about the health of the nation.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, explained: “Health and Wellbeing Boards will have huge influence over health in their local areas and so they have a great opportunity to help tackle the rising tide of diabetes. But our analysis suggests that in some cases this is an opportunity that is being missed.
“The number of people with diabetes is rising at an alarming rate but there is not enough priority given to preventing Type 2 diabetes. And for those who already have diabetes, the support they need to manage their condition is inconsistent.
“This is leading to devastating complications, premature death and massive costs to the NHS.
“We want to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups to help them improve diabetes healthcare, so everyone with diabetes and those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes get the good quality care they need to live long healthy lives.” The controversial boards are now responsible for improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.
But after examining 20 boards, the charity found the quality of diabetes policies “varies considerably” – and some give “no prominence to diabetes at all”.
The need to improve management of the condition was also “often absent” from policies.
Some strategies adopted do not clearly distinguish between Type 1 diabetes – an auto-immune disease – and Type 2, which is largely driven by lifestyle and is linked to obesity. The charity estimates 3.8 million people have diabetes in the UK, including 850,000 with Type 2 who do not know it.
The Department of Health said it had set “clear objectives for the NHS to improve care and management of diabetes”.