Diabetes patients 'pushed to back of queue' during Covid, charity says

Diabetes patients were ‘pushed to the back of queue’ during Covid, charity claims as it calls for national recovery plan to save thousands of lives being ‘needlessly lost’

  • Survey of 10k UK diabetics found majority had issues getting care during Covid 
  • 60% reported a lack of access to healthcare to help manage their condition 
  • A third had no contact with health professionals about their diabetes last year
  • And a sixth have not been in contact with health professionals since early 2020
  • Diabetes UK says the Government needs to act to stop a ‘needless’ loss of life 

Britain’s diabetics have been ‘pushed to the back queue’ during the pandemic, a charity has warned. 

Diabetes UK said thousands of diabetes sufferers’ lives are being put at risk due to the pandemic-fuelled care backlog. It has now urged the Government to get health services back on track before lives are ‘needlessly lost’.

Almost half of people with diabetes had difficulties managing their condition last year, according to a Diabetes UK survey of more than 10,000 people.

More than 60 per cent of them blamed a lack of access to healthcare, which can prevent serious illness and potentially deadly complications.

However, this rose to 71 per cent in the most deprived areas of the country.

A third of diabetics quizzed said they had no contact with healthcare professionals about their diabetes in 2021, while a sixth have still not had contact since before the Covid pandemic.

A charity has warned thousands of diabetics lives are being put at risk by a backlog of care caused by the Covid pandemic 

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.

It can cause symptoms like excessive thirst, needing to pee a lot and tiredness. It can also increase your risk of getting serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves.

It’s a lifelong condition that can affect your everyday life. You may need to change your diet, take medicines and have regular check-ups.

It’s caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It’s often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

 Source: NHS

Previous NHS figures showed that just 36 per cent of diabetes sufferers in England received all their recommended checks in 2020-21, compared with 57 per cent in 2019-20.

Diabetes UK chief executive, Chris Askew, called for a national recovery plan to save lives before it was too late.

‘If people with diabetes cannot receive the care they need, they can risk devastating, life-altering complications and, sadly, early death,’ he said. 

‘We know the NHS has worked tirelessly to keep us safe throughout the pandemic, but the impacts on care for people living with diabetes have been vast.

‘While the UK Government has been focused on cutting waiting lists for operations and other planned care, people with diabetes have been pushed to the back of the queue.

‘Urgent action is now required, which is why we’re calling on UK Government to implement a recovery plan for diabetes care.

‘We need to get this essential, life-saving care back on track, or lives will be needlessly lost.’

The survey also revealed that people from the most deprived parts of the country were nearly twice as likely to have had no contact with their healthcare team since before the pandemic than those in the least deprived. 

Former England footballer Gary Mabbutt, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 40 years is backing the campaign

Former England footballer and Tottenham legend and club ambassador Gary Mabbutt is supporting Diabetes UK’s campaign (pictured here in June last year)

‘I know from my own experience that complications from diabetes can be absolutely devastating, taking a heavy toll on people with diabetes and those close to them,’ he said.

‘For people with diabetes accessing vital care has been a huge challenge during the pandemic and continues to be as this report shows.’

Some 4.9 million people – or one in 14 – are living with diabetes in the UK.

In America an estimated 34.2million people have diabetes, roughly 10 per cent of the population.  

Diabetes is a life-long condition — split into two main types — that causes a person’s blood sugar to become too high. 

Type 1 is when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. 

Type 2 diabetes is far more common, accounting for 90 per cent of diabetes in the UK and is where the body does not produce enough insulin or cells do not correctly respond to the hormone. 

While type 2 diabetes can be partially managed and even reversed through healthy eating and regular exercise, type 1 can’t.

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