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Up to 24,000 diabetes deaths are 'avoidable'

Poor management of diabetic patients can lead to up to 24,000 avoidable deaths every year.

A mortality report by the National Diabetes Audit found death rates for diabetic women aged 15 to 34 are nine times higher than women of the same age without the condition.

Similarly, death rates increase four-fold in diabetic men aged 15 to 34 when compared to men of the same age without the condition.

The report suggests the findings mean two people aged 15 to 34 may be dying each week from avoidable causes.

Poor management of a patient's condition; such as not receiving basic healthcare checks, leading an unhealthy lifestyle and not taking medication appropriately, can increase the risk of avoidable deaths, concludes the audit.

"For the first time we have a reliable measure of the huge impact of diabetes on early death, many of which could be prevented," said Dr Bob Young, Clinical Lead for the National Diabetes Information Service and Audit Lead,

"The rate of new diabetes is increasing every year. So, if there are no changes, the impact of diabetes on national mortality will increase.

"Doctors, nurses and the NHS working in partnership with people who have diabetes should be able to improve these grim statistics."

Three quarters of the 24,000 diabetic avoidable deaths are aged 65 and over.

Despite this statistic, the audit found diabetic patients aged 0-54 were the least likely to receive all the basic care checks required to monitor their condition.

National Diabetes Audit

Your Comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Both, depending on the individual and his/her circumstances. You cannot generalise in the way the question suggests." - RP Kenny, Cumbernaud

"The management of diabetes should be the responsibility of the patient. The health services can only advise and assist in this. As a type 1 diabetic for the last 33 years, I have taken full responsibility for my condition, but do talk with the health care professionals about improvements in treatment. The diabetics who annoy me are the ones who do nothing to help themselves, abuse alcohol, take drugs, smoke, miss medication and cost the NHS a fortune to repair the damage they do." - Richard Relph, Cambridge

"My type 1 diabetic son died due to kidney disease which was not noticed. He was in intensive care eight or nine times in the four years prior to his death,and each time he was always told (and it is on his NHS notes) that he was a 'non-compliant' diabetic. He had been diabetic since he was a baby, and never had an emergency admission till he was 17. I begged for
support for him, every time he was rushed in, I pleaded with staff to do something to help him. The worst happened. The hospital tested him and stage 3 kidney disease showed up; they did not tell my son or our family, and that very preventable cause was what killed him. The Coroner ruled that it was death by natural causes. (Diabetes specialist agreed with Coroner, under oath at the inquest that kidney disease was not diagnosed until the post mortem). I did not have access to the NHS notes until after the inquest. Have recently pointed this out to the Coroner, and had a letter back to say he would not be re-opening the inquest." - Jane Sanders, Pembrokeshire

"I have had type one diabetes for over 20 years which was always well controlled until the isulin I was taking was discontinued.  I was told by a drug rep that this was to force people to use the more expensive genetically modified insulin which works in a different way. I do not wish to use this insulin and my control has not been the same since I stopped using Human Actrapid." - Johnny Craven, Newcastle

"Both, as an experienced practice nurse I meet many patients who do not want to accept responsibility for their diabetes control, and so may not engage with recommendations of more exercise and a healthier diet. However, I am also aware that there are nurses and GPs who may in fact not be competent to offer good quality care, so patients may then develop unnecessary complications." - Margaret Stubbs, Godalming