Varying standards of diabetes care remain a cause for concern on World Diabetes Day

Posted: 14/11/2013


In the light of World Diabetes Day today, the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team highlights the huge variation in the standard of diabetes care in the UK - according to a report from the latest National Diabetes Audit (NDA) carried out by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HISC). Following the audit of 2.5 million people with diabetes in England and Wales, the HISC report reveals that more than 1.2 million do not have well-controlled blood pressure and hundreds of thousands have a similar problem with blood sugar.

Around three million people in the UK are thought to have diabetes, 90% of which are Type 2 patients. The potential complications of diabetes include eye and foot problems, as well as kidney damage.

There are eight basic health checks that diabetic patients should be given on the NHS to pick up the signs of these problems as early as possible to improve the prospects of successful treatment. These include body mass index, foot checks, serum creatinine levels, smoking and urine albumen testing, but only 43% of patients with Type 1 diabetes and 63% with Type 2 actually received them. Such tests are essential for the healthcare of diabetic patients. For instance, a simple urine check, sometimes followed by a blood test, can pick up early signs of kidney damage and hopefully slow its progression.

The report highlights that, in some areas of the UK, as few as one in five patients with the condition are receiving all of the diabetes checks recommended by NICE. The audit revealed that only 60% of people with diabetes in the UK are receiving all the recommended checks and follow up. There is a huge geographical variation too with the percentage of those receiving it falling to just 20% in some areas.

Lucie Prothero, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, comments: “We wholeheartedly support World Diabetes Day (WDD), particularly as we see many clinical negligence claims each year arising from complications of diabetes that sometimes result in blindness, limb amputation or kidney failure. Diabetes requires active management to be kept under control and it is vital that the millions of diabetes sufferers in this country receive the care they need to prevent poor outcomes. The recent HISC audit highlights the scope for reducing stroke and heart disease in diabetic patients by simply achieving the blood pressure targets.”

Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence team, adds: “The Government has announced a target of 80% of all diabetes patients receiving all the recommended annual checks by 2018 but these figures from the HISC suggest this may not be achieved. Many of the clinical negligence claims we see result from a lack of education about diabetes and/or monitoring and follow-up. On World Diabetes Day we stress how important it is that good diabetes care in the UK continues to be prioritised and receive investment as the implications of poorly managed diabetes can be very serious.”


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