After a report last year that 24,000 diabetes related deaths could be avoided with better NHS care, figures reveal that around 1.3 million diabetes patients are missing out on essential health checks.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot use glucose properly, meaning that without proper management sufferers can develop potentially fatal complications like heart or kidney failure. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.
With proper management diabetes can be kept under control
NICE guidelines advise that primary care trusts (PCTs) give all diabetic patients a series of nine different health checks every year. These include checks of blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and an examination of the eyes and feet to spot early signs of complications.
But according to a report being aired on BBC Radio 4 tonight, the NHS postcode lottery is affecting how many patients are being offered the full series of tests.
Doctors in some areas are testing more than 60 per cent of patients, but some trusts are failing to give all nine tests to half of their patients, and some are testing fewer than 10 per cent.
In fact, the figures from the National Diabetes Audit for England show that more than 967,000 diabetes patients were not given all nine tests. Experts say that the figure could be more than 1.3m if the pattern is repeated in other UK countries.
Both Mid-Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Swindon PCT gave all nine tests to fewer than 10 per cent of diabetic patients.
Baroness Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said systematic changes were needed to ensure health care professionals could focus on early intervention.
"The government often says the right things but the stark fact is that people are dying and suffering a dramatically reduced quality of life as a result of lack of political will," she said.
"This is one of the few problems facing the government that does not require more investment.
"Health professionals are constantly telling us how frustrated they are about the constraints the system places on them and we want the government and the NHS to give them the tools they need."
The full report will be played on File on 4 on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, 21 February.
Private medical insurers view diabetes as a chronic condition, and consequently may not provide cover for it. See our page on chronic conditions for more information, or compare health insurance quotes online now.
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