Diabetes services under pressure

13 Apr 00
The NHS is struggling to cope with demand for diabetes services and faces a rising number of patients as the population ages, the Audit Commission warned this week.

14 April 2000

In a report, Testing Times, the commission said there was an urgent need for better strategic planning and monitoring to cope with the increasing number of diabetics. Costs will rise, partly fuelled by more intensive treatment regimes and new drugs.

Hospital-based diabetes services now cost £2bn, the commission estimates. But the total cost is much more and will rise sharply as the number of diabetics in the UK more than doubles from 1.4 million to 3 million by 2010. The disease is known to affect about 3% of the population, though up to half of all cases may be undiagnosed.

Prevalence is much higher in the elderly and more than a quarter of those of Asian origin over the age of 60 suffer from the condition.

Incidence is also rising among children under five years old. The threshold for diagnosing the disease has also recently been lowered, which will almost inevitably increase demand for diabetic care.

The commission said services were under strain and few were planning for the future. Patients have to wait 14 weeks for an initial consultation. One-third of patients are very dissatisfied with waiting times for consultants.

A commission survey showed that less than a quarter of health authorities had good population-based information on diabetes, while less than half had reviewed their services recently.

Commission controller Andrew Foster said one way to ease the pressure was to provide routine care in GP surgeries and health centres, allowing hospitals to concentrate on specialist services.


Did you enjoy this article?