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April 2022

DUK calls for recovery plan to tackle diabetes care delays – before it’s too late  

  • Just 36% of people with diabetes in England received all their recommended checks in 2020-21  
  • Those in deprived areas are finding it harder to manage and to access care 
  • More than 15% report no contact with their diabetes team since before the pandemic
  • Diabetes UK says urgent government action is needed before lives are ‘needlessly lost’ 

People living with diabetes have been ‘pushed to the back of the queue’ during the coronavirus pandemic and a national recovery plan is needed to support front-line healthcare teams in getting vital services back on track, Diabetes UK has said today.   

The charity warned that despite the tireless efforts of the NHS through the pandemic, many people living with the condition are still struggling to access the care they need, putting them at risk of serious complications, which can lead to premature death.   

A new report, published today by Diabetes UK as part of its Diabetes Is Serious campaign, shows the scale of the problem and sets out a series of calls to UK Government to tackle it.   

The report, titled Recovering Diabetes Care: Preventing the Mounting Crisis, is informed by a survey of more than 10,000 people living with and affected by diabetes, which revealed: 

  • Almost half (47%) had experienced difficulties managing their condition in 2021.   
  • 63% attributed this in part to not having sufficient access to their healthcare team, rising to 71%in the most deprived areas of the country.  
  • One in six reported no contact whatsoever about their diabetes with their healthcare team since before the pandemic.   

These findings are backed up by NHS figures which report that just 36% of people with diabetes in England received all their recommended care checks in 2020-21, compared with 57% in 2019-201.   

Diabetes UK’s survey also revealed stark health inequalities. It showed that people from the most deprived areas of the country were more likely to have experienced difficulties managing their diabetes, with 56% of people in the most deprived areas saying they had experienced problems compared to 44% in the least deprived.

The charity says the backlog in delivering this care, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, needs to be addressed urgently.   

Diabetes UK is calling for:   

  • A recovery plan from UK Government specifically addressing the challenges facing diabetes services, including staffing constraints, so that people with the condition can access the vital support they need.   
  • A renewed commitment to improving outcomes for people with, and at risk of, diabetes in the forthcoming refresh of the NHS Long Term Plan – and the further investment needed to make this happen. 
  • A cross-government strategy to tackle health inequalities in the forthcoming White Paper on Health Disparities.   
  • Integrated Care Systems to urgently draw up plans to catch up on the backlog of diabetes care, with the aim of ensuring everyone with diabetes has had a review of the key care processes and their care plan by the end of 2022.