Saturday, June 5, 1999 Published at 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
Diabetic care 'inadequate'
Patients with type 1 depend on daily insulin injections
Thousands of diabetics are at risk of serious long-term illnesses because of a lack of specialist care, says the British Diabetic Association.
In a survey - released to mark the beginning of National Diabetes Week - the association says that most health authorities in the UK provide less than a quarter of the recommended number of diabetes specialists.
An estimated 1.4 million people in the UK suffer from diabetes. Sufferers cannot produce the hormone insulin, which is needed to control blood sugar levels.
Without it, death is inevitable and patients need an insulin injection every day.
"There are too many people with diabetes who are not getting the necessary level of care from the NHS," says Paul Streets, the Chief Executive of the British Diabetic Association.
"This is costing these people in terms of serious long-term complications such as blindness, heart disease and amputations and is costing the NHS as these complications often lead to hospitalisation."
A research project has been launched to coincide with National Diabetes Week to investigate why some diabetic mothers pass on a disabling condition to their babies.
The national medical charity Action Research is funding the research into why such babies sometimes have an abnormality of the sacrum - a bone at the base of the spine. The condition can lead to incontinence.