Patient care: Diabetes Healthcare in ‘Crisis’

16 May 2012

Diabetes healthcare in England is in “crisis” according to the charity, Diabetes UK. There are at least 3.7 million people with diabetes in the UK and it is on the increase.

In some parts of the country, only 6% of people diagnosed with diabetes are getting the regular checks recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence. These checks include: eye screening for retinopathy, regular blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol and kidney function tests. The BBC recently quoted Dr Gerry Rayman, head of the diabetes service at Ipswich NHS Trust. He said: 'We know that one in three hospitals don’t have a specialist diabetes nurse, which is really quite alarming when we know that one in six people in hospital have diabetes. Unfortunately, many people in hospital with diabetes do come to harm as a result of, I’m afraid to say, inadequate care in hospital’.  

As clinical negligence lawyers, this is where, sadly, we come across patients with diabetes – because of the serious complications that can arise when the condition is not properly monitored or treated.  According to Diabetes UK, more than 13,000 diabetic patients had a stroke in 2009-10, and 7,000 had kidney failure. Other serious complications from failing to screen, monitor and treat diabetes include: blindness, amputation, damaged blood vessels, heart disease, impotence and nerve damage. The severity and frequency of these complications accounts for 10% of the entire NHS budget (£10 billion) and 80% of the total NHS spending on diabetes. The complications are not always avoidable and, of course, they do not necessarily result from failings in healthcare but the statistics are chilling.

Diabetes UK is actively encouraging patients with diabetes to have annual check-ups to guard against preventable complications. It is also actively encouraging people to be more aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes so that their condition can be diagnosed and effectively managed and controlled in its early stages. This message is all the more pertinent as they estimate that a further 850,000 people have diabetes but do not yet know it.   

If you would like advice regarding failures in treatment for diabetes such as delayed diagnosis or inappropriate treatment , please contact the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team on 020 7814 1200 or by email at

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