Diabetes patients being failed by health boards

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Treatment for diabetes varies significantly depending on health board report finds  

31st August 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

People with diabetes in Scotland face inequality in the level of care they receive, according to a leading charity.

Diabetes Scotland said there were significant differences between health boards in the number of people getting essential check-ups aimed at avoiding serious complications.

The charity’s annual State of the Nation report chronicles what it's called the current "Age of Diabetes" and the variations in care and outcomes for people living with the illness across Scotland.  

About 276,000 people in Scotland have been diagnosed with diabetes.

But the report found that the nine key checks which should be carried out annually to help prevent the complications of diabetes varied by health board.

NHS Scotland spends almost £1 billion annually on diabetes and around 80% of this is on treating avoidable complications.   

If action is not taken now, the longer-term costs will be severe to people living with the condition

As well as health board areas, the report showed other factors that drive inequalities including deprivation levels within communities and whether a person has type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Jane-Claire Judson, national director of Diabetes Scotland, said: “It is indefensible that people living with diabetes are subjected to such disparities of care across Scotland. 

“Whether you live in Orkney or Forth Valley should have no bearing on the level of care a person receives but what we are seeing are significant differences in the percentage of people receiving each of the nine essential care processes dependent on the health board area in which they live. 

“There are health boards such as NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde which are consistently falling below the average for Scotland with regards to care process completion and achievement rates.    

“We must focus on improving diabetes care for all, reducing avoidable complications, and supporting people to live well with the condition which should include offering a range of appropriate education opportunities. 

“If action is not taken now, the longer-term costs will be severe to people living with the condition, NHS Scotland and wider society.”

Public health minister Maureen Watt said: "We know that the number of people living with diabetes in Scotland is increasing.

“However, this is not because we are seeing an increase in the number of new cases of diabetes picked up every year, but rather that people with diabetes are living longer with the condition.

“Latest figures show that for the first time we are seeing the percentage of people with poor glucose control decreasing and more people than ever accessing crucial eye screening and feet checks."

She added: “Our Diabetes Improvement Plan, which was published in November 2014, builds on these positive findings and sets out a programme of work to enhance services for people with diabetes, and help reduce their risk of complications.”