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Diabetes death rate 'alarming': MPs

Too many people with diabetes are developing complications and dying prematurely because of poor care, says parliamentary group
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Keith David Barnard

6th November 2012 - Progress in delivering acceptable standards of care for people in England with diabetes is "depressingly poor" and is resulting in an unacceptable number of deaths, says a committee of MPs.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee says too many people with the condition are failing to receive the care and support they need, leading to the development of complications of diabetes, avoidable disability and premature death.

The Department of Health says it does not accept the bleak assessment made by the committee.

National framework

The cross-Party group of MPs have been investigating how well the NHS has been improving diabetes treatment since the Department of Health published the National Service Framework for Diabetes in 2001. This set out clear minimum standards for what constitutes good diabetes care.

The Framework included nine basic care processes which check for the early signs of avoidable diabetic complications, such as blindness and kidney disease. The Department also set treatment targets for the management of blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol to minimise the risk of complications developing.

'A state of crisis'

However, earlier this year the charity Diabetes UK warned that healthcare for people with the condition had drifted into "a state of crisis". Its ' State of the Nation 2012' report said that less than half of people in England with diabetes were able to access the basic minimum care they needed.

Now the Public Accounts Committee says that although there is agreement about what needs to be done for people with diabetes, progress in achieving it has been "depressingly poor". Particular criticism is aimed at a lack of strong national leadership in promoting acceptable levels of care. MPs say there is no evidence that the Department of Health will ensure that these issues are addressed effectively in the wake of NHS reforms.

The chair of the committee, Margaret Hodge MP, says in a statement: "Fewer than one in five people with diabetes have the recommended levels of blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, leaving an unacceptably high number at risk of developing complications, being admitted to hospital and costing the NHS more money."

Postcode lottery

The report also highlights variations in care standards across the country with the result that patients face a postcode lottery for how effectively their diabetes is treated and managed.

In 2009-10, there were 2.3 million adults diagnosed with diabetes in England and a further 800,000 people suffering from diabetes who remained undiagnosed. The percentage of the population diagnosed with diabetes doubled between 1994 and 2009 and is continuing to increase.

The report says that latest figures show that diabetes is costing the country at least £3.9 billion each year and is a growing drain on NHS resources.

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