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NHS “fails on diabetes self-care”

The majority of NHS trusts in England are not giving people with diabetes enough help in managing the condition at home, a watchdog has warned.

The Healthcare Commission said most primary care trusts were offering basic diabetes care such as yearly check-ups. But it warned that almost 130 out of more than 150 failed on home support.

Offering services to help patients manage their weight or plan an exercise regime are seen as crucial in reducing complications like heart problems. As such, they could also save the NHS millions of pounds each year.

In 2002, about £1.3bn – or 5% of NHS expenditure – was used to care for people with diabetes. Estimates from 2006 suggest this could even have crept up to 10% of total spending, the commission said.

Managing diabetes at home, by controlling weight or giving up smoking, has been touted as a key means of tackling complications of the condition. As well as heart problems, these include blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation.

Beefing up community services and the potential for self-management of long-term conditions such as diabetes is also one of the key planks of government policy.