Diabetes UK has issued a warning concerning the huge variation in England  regarding vital annual health checks designed to prevent serious complications in patients.

The charity says that “the postcode lottery of diabetes healthcare is now so great that people with the condition are four times more likely to get vital annual checks if they live in the best performing area in England than if they live in the worst”. Its new online tool, Diabetes Watch, supported by funding from Eli Lilly, enables patients to compare care in their area with the rest of the country.

Data show that just 18.5% of people with the condition in Mid-Essex get the eight annual checks recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, making it one of 27 areas in England where less than half of people with diabetes receive these checks.

In contrast, Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group gives the checks to 78.3% of the 6,893 people diagnosed with the condition in the area. It is one of 25 areas where over 70% of people with diabetes get the checks.

Diabetes UK says the fact that CCGs such as Tower Hamlets and Slough, “which face significant health challenges,” are giving the checks to over 70% of people with diabetes “shows it is possible for this to happen everywhere”. Chief executive Barbara Young noted that it is important that everyone with diabetes gets these checks “at least once a year, so it is deeply worrying that the proportion having them varies so widely from area to area”.

She added that “considering how they can help prevent devastating health complications such as amputation and blindness, having a fourfold difference between the best and worst performing areas is simply not good enough”. Ms Young went on to say that “we want CCGs that do not give these checks to enough people at the moment to set out how they plan to improve the situation and for the Governments to explain how it is going to ensure people with diabetes can be confident they will get good quality care, wherever they live”.