The charity Diabetes UK has branded 2012 a "lost year" for diabetes healthcare, after a new survey found that there has been almost no improvement to people's standard of care over the past 12 months.
85% of people with diabetes who took part in the survey said that their healthcare had either stayed the same or worsened over the last year, while just 11% said that it had improved.
Diabetes UK says it is disappointed by this lack of improvement, given that there is now widespread agreement from bodies such as the National Audit Office (NAO) and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that diabetes healthcare is not good enough.
This failure to deliver significant improvements means that 2012 has been a missed opportunity to reduce the risk of complications of diabetes, and ultimately to reduce the number of people with the condition who die early, the charity adds.
However, the survey has produced some good news, with 79% of respondents saying that they had had a leg and foot check in the past year - this represents a rise of four percentage points on the previous year. Nevertheless, there were also small, but not statistically significant, decreases in the number of people having an individualised care plan developed with their healthcare professional or seeing someone from a diabetes specialist team when they were admitted to hospital.
"A year ago, the Department of Health responded to criticism of diabetes healthcare by telling the NHS to improve the service it is offering people with the condition. But this survey shows that people with diabetes are not noticing things getting better, and this means 2012 has been a lost year and a missed opportunity to make the kind of changes that are so badly needed," said Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK.
She acknowledged that the survey has shown some positive signs, but added, "looked at as a whole, it is clear that we are still a long way from consistently delivering good-quality, integrated health care."
"This clearly shows that the government needs to make diabetes a national priority and to insist that 2013 is the year when people with diabetes really start to notice their healthcare improving. It is only by doing this that we will finally start to see the tragically high levels of diabetes-related complications and early deaths start to fall," said Baroness Young.
Diabetes UK has also called for urgent action as other new figures reveal that people with diabetes are 48% more likely to have heart attacks than the rest of the population.
14,476 of people with the condition included in the new National Diabetes Audit had a heart attack during 2010/11, which is 4,694 more than expected. The real number of diabetes-related heart attacks will be even higher, as over 10% of people with the condition are not included in the Audit, and the figures only cover people in England and Wales, Diabetes UK points out.
The Audit report also reveals that: - 22,000 people with diabetes in England and Wales died early in 2010/11; - the death rate among people with type 1 diabetes is 135% higher than the national rate; - people with diabetes are 65% more likely to have heart failure than the rest of the population; and - they are also more than 25% more likely to have a stroke, and twice as likely to need dialysis or a kidney transplant.