NHS 'could save billions of pounds if patients self-manage their diabetes'


The NHS must do more to help people with diabetes self-manage their condition, health leaders have said after a review concluded that the current way sufferers are cared for is "unsustainable".

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) review on diabetes care in England stated that the challenge posed by the disease is "enormous". There are 3.5 million patients with diabetes, and care for them accounts for 10% of the NHS budget.

As the number of people with Type 2 diabetes continues to grow, the "current model of care provision will become unsustainable", the authors said.

By better supporting people to manage their diabetes, a huge number of complications that arise from the disease - such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputations, and blindness - could be avoided and the NHS could save billions of pounds, the review found.

But the review concluded that the extent to which people are supported to successfully self-manage their disease "appears limited".

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that people with diabetes have structured education that includes details about the disease and how to manage it.

But the CQC report said a number of patients do no attend such courses because they are unaware they exist, they are discouraged by long waiting times or the courses are at inconvenient times.

Others who attended the courses said they were useful but refresher courses were needed.

The report authors added: "When the NHS does not support and empower people to self-manage their long-term condition, it impacts on patient experience and on NHS resources.

"For people with diabetes this may mean that they do not have the knowledge and skills to manage their condition effectively and are more likely to experience complications as a result.

"All parts of the health and care system need to make self-care a real priority, for the benefit of patients and the future of the NHS."

Meanwhile, the review also found that those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are not always identified and supported to become healthier. 

CQC chief executive David Behan said: "Our review highlights some great examples of community diabetes care. But it also shows that more work is needed to ensure that everyone who lives with diabetes can access the right level of personalised care and support to help them manage their condition.

Chris Askew, chief executive of the charity Diabetes UK, added: "As the diabetes crisis continues to escalate, we welcome the CQC's review, which highlights just how crucial it is for people with diabetes to get good support to help them better self-manage this very serious condition."