Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) must urgently draw up plans to catch up on the backlog of diabetes care, with concerns people with condition are not accessing services as needed, Diabetes UK has said today.
A new report, published by the charity as part of its Diabetes Is Serious campaign, called on ICSs to ensure everyone with diabetes has had a review of the key care processes and their care plan by the end of 2022, as well as support primary care teams to ‘urgently identify and review those at high risk and with potentially undiagnosed type 2 diabetes’.
It also called on the UK Government to introduce a recovery plan specifically addressing the challenges facing diabetes services, such as staffing constraints.
This comes alongside its survey of more than 10,000 people living with and affected by diabetes, which revealed 47% had experienced difficulties managing their condition in 2021. Of these, 63% said this was partly because of insufficient access to their healthcare team, rising to 71% in the most deprived areas of the country.
In addition, one in six overall respondents reported no contact whatsoever about their diabetes with their healthcare team since before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, 71% of respondents to a survey by the Primary Care Diabetes Society felt that the pandemic had significantly impacted their practice’s ability to provide routine diabetes care and checks for those with diabetes and screening for type 2 diabetes.
The Diabetes UK report, titled ‘Recovering Diabetes Care: Preventing the Mounting Crisis’, called for the Long-Term Strategic Framework for Health and Social Care Workforce to take account of the anticipated rise in the numbers and complexity of needs of people living with diabetes.
It also demanded investment in a wide range of roles to support primary care, while also ensuring that all health care professionals have a basic level of diabetes education.
Children and young people were highlighted as a high priority for ICS, and the refresh of the NHS Long term plan was urged to make sufficient funding available to provide care for children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to prevent type 2 diabetes in young people.
Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said: ‘We know the NHS has worked tirelessly to keep us safe throughout the pandemic, but the impacts on care for people living with diabetes have been vast. While the UK Government has been focused on cutting waiting lists for operations and other planned care, people with diabetes have been pushed to the back of the queue.
‘Urgent action is now required, which is why we’re calling on UK Government to implement a recovery plan for diabetes care. We need to get this essential, life-saving care back on track, or lives will be needlessly lost.’
There are an estimated 4.9 million people living with diabetes in the UK.
The report comes after NHS England announced last month that all type 1 diabetes patients will become eligible for real-time or ‘flash’ glucose monitors, with the devices to be prescribed by their general practice or local diabetes team.