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Why are more GPs not detecting diabetes?

29th September 2008

Why are GPs failing to detect diabetes - a disease which is increasing among the population and is thought to cause over 10% of deaths in England? Emma Dent explores the issue in the Health Service Journal.

consultant1Q

Diabetes is a condition which is increasingly affecting the UK population, with the amount of people suffering from type 2 rising. Currently, approximately 2.3 million people in the UK have diabetes.

The charity Diabetes UK has claimed that around 500,000 people who suffer from diabetes have not been diagnosed.

Diabetes UK head of policy Bridget Turner said she was worried that doctors were not recognising the signs of diabetes: "Only 57% of primary care trusts have any sort of programme in place to raise awareness of diabetes or pick up risk factors associated with it. It can go undetected for years."

She added that the structures to enable treatment were not available in primary care trusts and said "it is all ad hoc at a local level, not systematic."

Concerns have been raised about the treatment of people who have diabetes, once they have been diagnosed. The National clinical director for diabetes Dr Rowan Hillson said she believed many people with the condition were "not coded properly [under the payment by results system]."

According to a Healthcare Commission survey, one in 10 people said they were unable to take their medication in the manner they wished to and that the meals they were given were not appropriate. Nearly 25% said they had not received a visit from a specialist diabetes team.

Statistics from Yorkshire and the Humber public health observatory found that diabetes caused 11.6% of deaths in England among people aged 20-79.

Dr Hillson raised the issue of how women with diabetes are affected if they decide to have children. She said that they had "five times the average still birth rate" when compared to women who did not have the condition.

She added that trusts needed to consider how they offered "access to care". She described diabetes as a "slow condition", but added that investing in treatment could lessen the amount of hospital stays and money spent in the future.

 

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