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Inadequate NHS diabetes care causing patients harm

NHS diabetes care is ‘inadequate’ and some patients come to further harm due to poor care in hospital, a leading specialist says.Inadequate NHS diabetes care causing patients harmDr Gerry Rayman, national clinical lead for inpatient diabetes, warned many hospitals had no specialist diabetes nurse. He said many hospital patients had diabetes, and called the situation ‘quite alarming’.

Diabetes accounts for 11% of all NHS inpatient expenditure, and costs the service around £23.7 billion last year, a figure projected to increase to just under £40 billion by 2035.

Diabetes that is not controlled can cause many serious long-term problems

  • Excess glucose (sugar) in the blood can damage the blood vessels, contributing to heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, impotence and nerve damage.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes is the most common cause of blindness in people of working age.
  • People with diabetes are also 15% more likely to have an amputation than people without the condition.

In Type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced or the insulin that is made by the body does not work properly.

It tends to affect people as they get older and usually appears after the age of 40, but increasingly is seen in younger, overweight people. It accounts for 90% of all cases.

Type 1 diabetes, a condition which usually means insulin cannot be produced at all, is responsible for the other 10%.

Adrian Sanders, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for diabetes, claimed there was plenty of evidence out there to support Dr Rayman’s assessment.

He said the government was aware that a disproportionate number of people occupying hospital beds have diabetes, and their hospital stays are longer.

He said the government – and the last Labour administration – had encouraged more support for people with diabetes in primary care.

“That’s actually a very good policy for people whose condition doesn’t present complications or specialisms. And that’s why you need specialist care for those who present with specialist problems.”

Barbara Young, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said diabetes was a serious condition which could lead to devastating long term complications including blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

She said: “The tragedy is that for many people with diabetes, complications could have been avoided if the health checks were in place to spot any signs and if the appropriate care and treatment were applied.

“For example, up to 80% of amputation cases due to diabetes could be avoided if problems are identified early enough and treated appropriately.”

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