Diabetes care improving but 'shocking' regional variation remains

The proportion of diabetes patients achieving all three NICE-recommended annual treatment targets has risen in the last six years but 'shocking' regional variation in care persists, a report has warned.

Achievement of BP, glucose and cholesterol targets varies (Photo: JH Lancy)
Achievement of BP, glucose and cholesterol targets varies (Photo: JH Lancy)

The National Diabetes Audit 2015/16, published on Tuesday, shows that diabetes care has improved over the last six years, with the proportion of type 2 patients achieving all three annual targets for glucose control, BP and cholesterol rising 5.1 percentage points to 40.2%.

Improvements for patients with type 1 diabetes rose at a slower rate of 1.6 percentage points to 18.1% over the same period.

But the level of care received by patients ‘varies dramatically’ across England and Wales, according to the report, published by NHS Digital in partnership with Diabetes UK.

Although more type 2 patients are achieving treatment targets overall, the proportion doing so ranges from 33% in the lowest-performing CCG areas to 49% in the top-performing CCGs.

Similarly, type 1 care varies from 11% achieving treatment targets in some CCG areas to 34% in others.

Diabetes care

Older people also appear to be more likely to hit targets than younger patients, with close to half (46%) of type 2 patients aged 65 to 79 achieving targets compared to 27% of people under 40 – and 24% and 18% respectively for type 1 diabetes.

Dr Bob Young, a consultant diabetologist and clinical lead for the audit said: ‘What’s striking about this audit is how large some of the differences are between GP practices and between specialist services. High-achieving services are often found in localities serving socially deprived or ethnically diverse communities. This shows that patient characteristics are not a barrier to good care.

‘Achieving treatment targets is central to staying healthy with diabetes. GP and specialist services need to work together and all aim for the level of the best. Everyone with diabetes should be confident they are getting high quality care.’

Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew said the variation for people achieving their targets was ‘shocking’.

‘Achieving treatment targets is absolutely vital when it comes to staying healthy with diabetes as doing so helps people reduce their risk of developing serious and life-threatening complications such as amputation, blindness, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease,’ he added.

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