Diabetes – MPs call for better prevention and treatment

The Public Accounts Committee has just published its report into the Management of adult diabetes services in the NHS.

Cases of diabetes continue to rise with an estimated 200,000 new diagnoses each year. In their report, the Committee expressed concern about the continuing rise in the cost of treating patients with diabetes and there is a call by Parliament for control of costs by better prevention and treatment.

The annual cost of treating diabetes in 2010/11 was £5.6 billion, of which 69% of the costs related to complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.

Standardising Treatment

Currently only 60% of patients are receiving the annual checks that they need to monitor their health and avoid long term complications.

One way in which the report recommends improvement is by standardising treatment and ensuring that the best performing Clinical Commissioning Groups are able to pass on what they do well to the worst performing.

‘Prevention is better than cure’

Another way of addressing improvements, recommended in the report, is to increase participation in prevention programmes and NHS England already have the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which was set up in 2015. This encourages people to lose weight and exercise.

In addition to the programme for prevention of the disease, for those diagnosed, the NHS want to encourage participation in education to self manage the condition by adopting the following measures:

  • eating a healthy diet,
  • monitoring their blood glucose levels
  • taking insulin or glucose-lowering medication

The report notes: Structured education has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of people with diabetes developing complications.

While it is expected that this will help, there is concern that these steps alone will be insufficient to manage the growing problem.

Staff Numbers

The committee also looked at the staffing available to manage those with Diabetes. While new cases of occupancy of beds on acute hospital wards continue to rise there have been static levels of Diabetic specialists. In addition to static levels of Consultants, specialist Diabetic nurses are not being increased. One way of dealing with this problem is to improve levels of understanding and knowledge across all clinical staff.

Our Clinical Negligence Team has experience of dealing with cases arising from the complications and management of Diabetes. If you or your family have been affected by the issues in this article, please contact us on 0800 316 8892 or e-mail Marguarita Tyne on marguarita.tyne@clarkewillmott.com