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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 10:48 GMT
Diabetes care blueprint launched
Some diabetes need to take insulin
Some diabetes need to take insulin
The government has published a blueprint for improved care for diabetes, a condition which can contribute to early death.

The set of standards, published on Friday, are the first part of a National Service Framework (NSF) on diabetes.

The document sets out pledges to improve care, with many focussing on the treatment of children and young people with diabetics.

The second part of the NSF, to be published next summer, will set out milestones and implementation plans.

The publication of these Framework Standards offers a golden opportunity to ensure that people with diabetes finally get the healthcare they deserve

Paul Streets, Diabetes UK
Diabetes is a hormone disorder, which comes in two types. Type 1 destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin, which sufferers then need to replace to control their blood sugars.

Type 2, or non-insulin dependent diabetes is the most common form of the disease, usually occurring in people who are over the age of 45 and overweight.

Sufferers either do not make enough insulin, or are unable to make proper use of it, leading to a build-up of sugar in the cells which causes health problems.

Around 1.3m people in England are affected by the condition which, if not properly treated, can lead to complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and foot problems that may lead to amputation.

And diabetes is estimated to account for 10% of NHS hospital resources.

This is the fourth NSF to be published by the government, following care blueprints for mental health, coronary heart disease and care of older people.


There are 12 standards set out in the Diabetes NSF, including:

  • Cutting the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the population by preventing and reducing obesity
  • Identifying people who do not know they have diabetes, through follow up and regular testing of individuals known to be at increased risk of developing diabetes, and opportunistic screening of people with multiple risk factors
  • Children with diabetes will be involved in planning their care. School staff and health professionals will be educated to spot early signs of diabetes
  • Young diabetics moving between child and adult services will experience a smooth transition
  • Children and young adults will also receive regular surveillance for the long-term complications of diabetes
  • Protocols will be agreed for dealing with diabetic emergencies

Launching the document on Friday, health minister Jacqui Smith said: "This new blueprint of care heralds a new beginning for the many thousands of people with diabetes in England.

"There are currently considerable variations around the country in the organisation and quality of diabetes services.

"Our new national NSF standards will make sure that people receive high-quality care at the right time and in the right place."

'Devil in the detail'

Paul Streets, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "The publication of these Framework Standards offers a golden opportunity to ensure that people with diabetes finally get the healthcare they deserve.

Our new national NSF standards will make sure that people receive high-quality care at the right time and in the right place

Jacqui Smith, health minister
"However the devil is in the detail of how the standards are implemented.

"Unless we get this detail right, we will not achieve our ambitions of getting decent care for people with diabetes."

Doctors and policy officials will work out how the standards should be implemented, in a group headed by Professor Mike Pringle, of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Dr Sheila Adam, Director of Policy at the Department of Health.

Funding 'crucial'

Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs' committee, said: "Family doctors want to provide high quality health care for their patients, but at the moment they face an excessive, and for many, unsustainable, workload.

"We hope this two phase approach to implementing the NSF will allow patients to get the care they deserve without increasing the burden on general practitioners."

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of primary care body the NHS Alliance, welcomed the delay between setting out standards and setting targets.

He added: "With clearly defined and locally agreed protocols, much of the additional work in general practice could be done by nurses. But that will only be possible if the funding is available."

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Health
Anger over diabetes delay
12 Apr 00 | Health
NHS 'failing' diabetics
27 Nov 01 | Health
Diabetes heart death warning
10 Jun 01 | Health
Diabetes deaths 'unnecessary'
03 Jan 01 | Health
Diabetes gene identified
09 Feb 99 | Medical notes
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