Chance to tackle diabetes ‘missed’

Some NHS organisations are “missing an opportunity” to tackle the rising tide of diabetes.

Diabetes UK said some Health and Wellbeing Boards, which were set up under the controversial NHS reforms, are risking overlooking the need to improve diabetes care in their local areas.

The boards are responsible for improving the health and wellbeing for people in their regions as well as reducing health inequalities.

After examining health strategies from 20 of the boards the charity found that the quality of the policies in relation to diabetes “varies considerably” and some give “no prominence to diabetes at all”.

The need to improve management of the condition was “often absent” from the policies, the charity said. And more than half of boards are “failing” to translate national guidance into local action, a spokeswoman said.

Some of the strategies do not clearly distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the charity said. Unlike type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease, type 2 is largely driven by lifestyle and linked to obesity.

“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,” said Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young.

“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 people who already have diabetes, the support they need to manage their condition is inconsistent and 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 deliver and prioritise improving diabetes healthcare so that everyone with diabetes and those at high risk of type 2 diabetes get the good quality care they need to live long healthy lives.”

Diabetes UK estimates that 3.8 million people have diabetes in the UK including 850,000 people who have type 2 diabetes but do not know it.

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