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21 November 2012


Wales ‘sleepwalking to diabetic society’, warns charity

Diabetes UK Cymru has today (Weds Nov 21)launched a hard-hitting report – State of the Nation 2012 – which pinpoints major failings by Welsh health authorities and government in dealing with the rising tide of diabetes.

“Diabetes is growing out of control,” warns the report, citing an increase of 35,000 people with the condition in just the last five years to a current total of 160,000. By 2025, the number of people with diabetes is forecast to top 250,000.

“We are sleepwalking towards a diabetic society,” warns director Dai Williams, “A country where for many it is ‘normal’ to have diabetes by the age of 50, where NHS services are unable to cope and where  thousands suffer the misery of sight loss, amputation, stroke, kidney failure and premature death.”

Williams says that 10 per cent of NHS resources are already spent on diabetes  - mostly on its complications - and this is likely to spiral as more and more people get diabetes.

The report emerges as the National Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee is conducting an inquiry into diabetes services and the Welsh Government is due to publish shortly its diabetes strategy.

“We hope the new strategy does not meet the fate of its predecessor ten years ago, most of whose most important aims and plans remain unachieved, “ says Williams.

“An urgent national grip needs to be taken of the situation,” warns the report, “The alternative is an NHS swamped by demand and a massive toll in human misery.”

The charity is calling for a number of urgent reforms to address the emergency, including:

·       The appointment of an NHS lead on diabetes to co-ordinate delivery plans

·       An annual risk assessment and public awareness drive from Public Health Wales

·       Specialist staff should be retained in hospitals to improve diabetes management


“Cancer, stroke and heart disease have been targeted by national programmes to raise awareness and drive improvement. Diabetes has not,” the report states, in spite of the fact that diabetes is almost four times as common as all cancers put together.

Meanwhile the report reveals that standards of care in Wales for people with diabetes fall far below the standards set  by official bodies such as NICE:

·       70% of adults with Type 1 diabetes and 43 % of adults with Type 2 diabetes fail to get all the recommended  annual tests and investigations.

·       94% of children with diabetes in Wales don’t get all the annual routine health checks they should get.

The charity calls for health boards to be called to account by  NHS Wales and the government for their failings.

Every single health board in Wales that has provided data is revealed to have failed to reach minimum treatment targets for HbA1c, cholesterol and blood pressure checks for people with diabetes.

There are also concerns about foot care, where 18% of people in Wales with diabetes are not getting annual foot checks, in spite of diabetes being a major cause of ulceration and amputation.

The charity wants everyone with diabetes to get 15 healthcare essentials, which include all the clinical tests and checks plus emotional and psychological support, specialist care, pregnancy care and paediatric and impatient care.

“This report is a call to arms,” says Dai Williams, “We are at a turning point, with an inquiry under way and the Welsh Government about to launch their new strategy.

“We could just have more of the same well- intentioned aspirations  that fail to be properly implemented.  Or  the opportunity could be grasped to take the situation seriously and plan for a better future.”

Ed Note.... This item will be transferred to a page of its own very shortly due to the length of the report.


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