The three treatment targets for diabetes - controlling blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol - are being met for just a third of patients in England, Public Health England has reported.
And nowhere across the country is meeting all three targets well – the average is 36% and the best is 48%, according to Healthier Lives, a new online tool produced by PHE. This interactive “heat map” includes information on the prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, levels of care provided and the quality of care achieved in each area by local authority (LA), clinical commissioning group (CCG) and general practice, compared to the England average.
Its findings reveal not only large variations in treatment but also in the provision of NHS Health Checks across the country, showing that there is a postcode lottery in diabetes care, which the charity Diabetes UK says is “deeply worrying.”
The figures are also show huge variation in the proportion of people who have their diabetes under control, says the charity’s chief executive, Barbara Young. “This has serious implications because unless someone has their condition under control, they are at higher risk of health complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney failure and, ultimately, early death,” she added.
The new figures are also “just the latest in a long line of statistics that show that diabetes healthcare is hugely geographically variable and in many places is not good enough,” said Baroness Young.
“It is not even clear in the reformed NHS whose job it is to hold poorly-performing areas to account. The end result is that while some areas provide good-quality care, too many people have substandard care that is putting their future health at risk,” she said, and called on the government to “put the N back into NHS by insisting that everyone with diabetes gets the care they need, wherever they happen to live.”
It is estimated that 10% of the population of England could have diabetes by 2034, and there are millions of people i with undiagnosed high blood pressure, said John Newton, chief knowledge officer at PHE.
“We need to create a sense of urgency in dealing with these future health problems which are facing our communities,” said Prof Newton, while the agency’s director for people with long-term conditions, Martin McShane, pointed out that while a healthy lifestyle in adults at high risk of diabetes can halve the likelihood of suffering from the condition, there is also a need for NHS England to support evidence-based treatment, shaped to support individuals.