Younger people with diabetes in UK less likely to get necessary annual health checks

by Barbara Hewitt on January 29, 2016

The importance of younger people with diabetes receiving their annual healthy checks has been highlighted by a charity after new data showed that in the UK the level doing so is worryingly low.

Younger people in parts of the UK aged under 40 with diabetes are less likely to receive the annual health checks they should be getting and which are critical to keeping their health under control.

The latest data from the National Diabetes Audit report, covering 1.9 million diabetics in England and Wales reveals that, among people aged under 40, some 27.3% of with type 1 diabetes and 40.8% of with type 2 diabetes are receiving all eight care processes that NICE says they should get.

Young people

The data also shows that people aged under 65 are less likely to achieve their treatment targets and there ëappreciableí variations in care and achievements between health care practices.

Charity Diabetes UK described it as a worrying figure because these checks are vitally important to ensure people with diabetes are getting the right care and support they need to help them manage their diabetes. These checks can help prevent people with diabetes from suffering from devastating but preventable complications such as amputation, kidney failure and heart disease.

“It is deeply worrying that such a low percentage of younger people with diabetes are receiving all eight of the vital care processes. With this reflecting patterns of previous years, urgent action must be taken to ensure younger people too are given the best chances of good health and don’t continue to be left behind,” said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

“We know that young people may struggle to fit in getting the checks with work and a busy life. But it is vital that commissioners look at ways to enable more young people to have better access to the healthcare services that will help them to manage their diabetes on a day to day basis,” he pointed out.

“As the number of people with diabetes continues to soar, mainly fuelled by the massive increase in recent years of people developing type 2 diabetes, there really is no time to waste. Urgent action must be taken so that young people, our future generation, have the best possible chances of living long, healthy lives,” he added.

The data shows that there has been a significant improvement in the number of patients achieving target blood pressure levels. Improvements in blood pressure control can help to reduce the risks of cardiovascular complications.

There was also a small rise in take-up for some of the key tests across all age groups, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and HbA1c. But there was an 8% drop in the number of people with type 1 diabetes getting their urine albumin test and a drop of 9.8% for those with type 2 diabetes.

Askew pointed out that not getting this check means people are less likely to find out they have kidney damage until it has already developed into an extremely serious health issue. Latest figures show that nearly 11,000 people in 2012/2013 had renal replacement therapy, including dialysis and kidney transplants, as a result of their diabetes.

“We want to work with Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England to address the major problems in diabetes and turn 2016 into a year where local healthcare teams are given the support to really make a difference to people living with diabetes so that they do not continue to suffer the very serious complications of poorly managed diabetes,” Askew added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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