Last updated: 30.06.14

Diabetes UK issues warning over health checks

Many diabetes patients are not undergoing the vital health checks needed to ensure they do not develop serious complications, according to Diabetes UK.

The charity claims the proportion of patients receiving all eight of the recommended annual health checks significantly varies across Britain. In some regions, less than one in five of those who should undergo the assessments are actually receiving them, compared to 78 per cent in other areas of the country.

According to Diabetes UK, the health checks - recommended by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - can prevent a patient from developing potentially “devastating” complications from the condition, such as amputation and blindness.

The charity has created a tool, called Diabetes Watch, which allows those with the condition to compare their care with that available in other areas of the county. Results from this instrument reveal that less than 50 per cent of diabetes patients in 27 regions of England receive all the checks they should do.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "It is important that everyone with diabetes gets these checks at least once a year, so it is deeply worrying that the proportion having them varies so widely from area to area.

"Considering how they can help prevent devastating health complications such as amputation and blindness, having a fourfold difference between the best and worst performing areas is simply not good enough. If over 70 per cent of people with diabetes in areas with significant health challenges are getting the checks then there is no good reason why this should not be happening everywhere.”

The National Patient Safety Training Suite (NPSS) is a collection of six online patient safety training courses developed by NHS England and Virtual College. The suite is available to all healthcare organisations on a 12 month subscription. Since a reduction in national funding, the online training has replaced the former Diabetes Safety Suite, delivered jointly by Diabetes UK and Virtual College.

NHS England’s Patient Safety Domain recommends that all staff expected to prescribe, handle or administer insulin should undergo training on the safe use of the drug. The NPSS includes several courses, including the Safe Use of Insulin, the Safe Use of Intravenous Insulin Infusions, the Safe Management of Hypoglycaemia, the Safe Use of Non-Insulin Therapies for Diabetes, the Safe Use of Pen Devices and the National Curriculum for the Training of Healthcare Professionals Who Care for Children and Young People with Diabetes Mellitus Level 1 (Basic Awareness).

According to Dr Fiona Campbell, clinical lead for Diabetes Care for Children and Young People , all trusts with a paediatric diabetes unit should subscribe to the NPSS.

A further seven courses are in development and will be released throughout 2014. For more information call 01943 885086 or click here.