"Diabetes care depressingly poor, say MPs," is the headline on the BBC News website. This is the damning verdict of a parliamentary report into standards of diabetes care in the NHS. The Public Accounts Committee reported that (in the words of the Daily Mail), “24,000 with diabetes ‘are dying needlessly’”.
The report was published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – an influential group of MPs who have been given an oversight role to help ensure that taxpayers get value for money.
Based on official figures and spoken and written evidence from independent diabetes experts and officials, the PAC has set out recommendations for improved diabetes care in the NHS.
The report indicates that the NHS spent an estimated £3.9 billion on diabetes services in 2009/10. However, 80% of the costs are estimated to come from the management and treatment of avoidable diabetes-related complications, such as kidney disease and foot ulcers.
The report highlights that the number of people with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes is 3.1 million, set to rise to 3.8 million by 2020. This projected increase is likely to have a significant impact on NHS resources, the committee says.
The report accepts that there is consensus about what needs to be done for people with diabetes. However, progress in actually delivering the recommended standards and achieving treatment targets has been ‘depressingly poor’, it says.
The report, ‘Department of Health: The management of adult diabetes services in the NHS’ has been published by the PAC.
The PAC is made up of MPs appointed by the House of Commons, and is responsible for overseeing government expenditures to ensure transparency, value for money, and accountability in government financial operations.
The main findings of the report are:
The report states that the reasons these problems have arisen include:
Committee chair, Margaret Hodge, is quoted as saying ‘variation in the level of progress across the NHS also means that there is an unacceptable “postcode lottery” of care’.
This report used evidence from a report on the management of adult diabetes services in the NHS, England, published earlier this year (May 2012) by the National Audit Office.
When writing their report, the PAC also took into consideration written and oral evidence from expert witnesses and officials from the Department of Health regarding the management of adult diabetes services in the NHS in England.
Written evidence was also submitted by organisations such as Diabetes UK, and the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists.
Based on the conclusions set out in the report, the PAC wants the Department of Health to set out how improvements on diabetes services will be delivered in future. It recommends that:
Management of diabetes aims to keep blood glucose levels as normal as possible to try to control symptoms and prevent associated complications developing.
Such complications can include:
Read more about the complications of diabetes.
Such complications can affect people with both type 1 diabetes (who rely on insulin) and type 2 diabetes (who are commonly managed – at least initially – with diet control and oral diabetes medications).
If you have type 2 diabetes, you will need to look after your health very carefully. Caring for your health will make treating your diabetes easier and will minimise your risk of developing serious complications of diabetes, such as heart disease and retinopathy. The following are all important factors in diabetes care:
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, your GP will be able to explain your condition to you in detail and help you to try and understand and manage your condition.
Read more about diabetes and living with diabetes.