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24,000 unnecessary deaths…

24,000 unnecessary deaths…

A recent report by the National Audit Office has revealed widespread failings in NHS care for those with diabetes in England. Holly Burrows, from medical negligence solicitors Pannone LLP reports.

According to the report as many as 24,000 unnecessary deaths occur each year with many other diabetics suffering complications such as blindness, amputation and kidney disease due to substandard provisions of care.

In 2001 the Department of Health set out clear standards of what constitutes good diabetes care, including nine basic care processes, to reduce the risk of people developing avoidable diabetic complications. Despite this, only half of the 3.1 million people with the condition are receiving the regular NHS checks needed to keep them healthy, the National Audit Office found.

Every diabetic is supposed to undergo nine care processes each year in order to reduce the risk of unnecessary complications. These include:
• Urine test to check for protein, a sign of kidney problems
• Blood pressure levels checked
• Body Mass Index checked
• Cholesterol levels checked
• Blood test to check for possible kidney disease
• Eyes examined to check the condition of the retina
• Skin, circulation and nerve supply of feet checked
• Glucose levels checked
Despite these Department of Health recommendations, the report found that in 2009 – 2010 ‘only half of the increasing number of people with diabetes received all the recommended care processes.’

There are significant variations in the quality of care received by people with diabetes in England. The number of people receiving each of the 9 basic care checks varied from 6% in one region (Mid Essex NHS Primary Care Trust) to 69% in others (Gateshead). Despite this, poor performing Primary Care Trusts are not being held accountable for their substandard provision of care.

It would seem that the Department of Health is currently failing to deliver the standards of care it promised. As Paul Burstow, the Care Service Minister announced, ‘there is no excuse for delivering anything but the best diabetes care.’

Holly Burrows, Pannone LLP.