Diabetes screening is crucial but getting patients involved in follow-up treatment in primary care may be even more important, said experts at the Westminster Health Forum on Diabetes.
Today is World Diabetes Day and the first year that the event has been recognised by the United Nations.
Type 2 diabetes affects 3 to 5% of the UK population, its increasing prevalence is blamed partly on rising obesity rates and the ageing status of our population.
Speaking at the conference, Health Improvement Principal of Leeds Primary Care Trust Karen Newbolt said there was an apparent need for targeted screening of high-risk populations in order to identify the disease early on.
However, she added that it is more than possible to find people who have diabetes – but the real problem was to make sure they kept coming back to visit nurses in primary care.
Experts suggested that many patients see diabetes screening days as "treatment" and do not understand, even after some prompting, that they should return to primary care after screening for further help.
"Screening in supermarkets is all well and good but it's not just about diagnoses but follow-up treatment is also important," said Kate Newbolt.
Chief Executive of Diabetes UK Douglas Smallwood said that the UK is not lacking in diabetes policy, it just remains to be implemented.
"We need to incentivise people who provide care to put the focus on prevention," he said.
"We must do these things due to great financial and social implications if we don't."