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Diabetes Health: Routine Checks May Prevent Serious Complications
Managing diabetes can be a challenging task, but routine checks play a crucial role in reducing the risk of serious complications such as amputations and heart attacks. Unfortunately, many people with diabetes are still left to manage their condition alone, according to Diabetes UK. The disruption to healthcare services caused by the pandemic has led to a backlog of routine diabetes care, resulting in higher numbers of deaths among people with diabetes. Urgent action is needed to reverse this trend and support individuals in living well with diabetes.
The Impact of Missed Routine Checks
Diabetes UK reports that out of the over five million people living with diabetes in the UK, approximately 1.9 million missed out on vital routine checks in the year 2021-22. This backlog is likely a result of the disruption to care during the pandemic. Shockingly, between January and March 2023, there were 1,461 excess deaths involving diabetes, which is three times higher than the same period last year. These statistics highlight the urgent need to restore routine diabetes care to pre-pandemic levels and provide support to individuals living with the condition.
Personal Story: Anthony Parker’s Struggle
Anthony Parker, a 44-year-old from Berkshire, has been living with type 1 diabetes since he was 10 years old. He was due for a routine check-up in January 2020, which never happened. After waiting for 18 months, he had a phone appointment, which he describes as a “waste of time.” During this time, he developed an eye condition called retinopathy, which has caused damage to his eyesight and overall health. Anthony’s frustration is evident as he describes his life with impaired vision and the negative impact it has had on his mental well-being. Although he has a good GP who conducts some routine checks on his blood pressure and cholesterol, his latest appointment with his diabetic consultant was another disappointing phone consultation.
Types of Diabetes and Routine Health Checks
Approximately 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells do not properly respond to insulin. The condition is often managed with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and medication. On the other hand, about 8% have type 1 diabetes, which is more common in children and young adults. Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin doses for treatment. Routine health checks are vital for both types of diabetes, but unfortunately, Diabetes UK’s report reveals that nearly 300,000 fewer people received the recommended eight checks in 2022 compared to the year before the pandemic.
Diabetes UK’s Calls for Action
Diabetes UK is urging the government to address the backlog in diabetes care, reduce health inequalities, and improve support to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. The organization emphasizes the importance of close support and monitoring for individuals living with diabetes. The report underscores the need for urgent action to tackle these issues and ensure better diabetes management and care.
Government and NHS Responses
The Department of Health and Social Care recognizes the importance of diabetes prevention and highlights the success of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme. This program, the largest of its kind globally, has already helped over 18,000 people avoid type 2 diabetes through expert advice on healthy eating and exercise. NHS England also acknowledges the need for improvement, aiming to restore routine diabetes care to pre-pandemic levels.
Living with diabetes can be relentless, and proper support and monitoring from healthcare professionals are crucial. Unfortunately, many individuals with diabetes are left to manage their condition alone, resulting in missed or delayed routine checks. The backlog in diabetes care caused by the pandemic has led to higher numbers of deaths among people with diabetes. Urgent action is needed to address this issue, reduce health inequalities, and provide better support to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. By restoring routine diabetes care to pre-pandemic levels, individuals with diabetes can receive the necessary checks and support to live well with their condition.