Charity Calls for Diabetes Education Improvements

Peter Russell

July 14, 2016

Too few people in England and Wales diagnosed with diabetes are being taught how to manage their condition, says a health charity.

Diabetes UK's State of the Nation report found that in 2014 to 2015 only 2% of people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and 6% of those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were recorded as going on a diabetes course.

Health Complications

The charity says this poor performance is leading to avoidable health complications among patients and even premature deaths. It says it is also adding to soaring care costs for the NHS.

It wants to see targets set for improving uptake over the next few years.

When diabetes is poorly managed it can lead to a large number of complications such as heart attacks, amputation, blindness and strokes.

Diabetes courses are free and designed to make living with diabetes easier and safer. There are specific courses tailored to help people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.


Last year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published new guidelines to help improve management of diabetes in adults and children, including promoting courses.

Diabetes UK says it welcomes NHS England's new ratings system which will see Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the local bodies responsible for managing health in their areas, being assessed on the numbers of diabetes patients achieving recommended treatment targets and the numbers of people newly diagnosed with diabetes attending an education course.

However, it says that with only 41% of people with type 2 diabetes and 19% of people with type 1 diabetes meeting their targets for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol, there is an urgent need to ensure that patients can access education courses and learn to manage their condition more effectively.

It wants to see at least half of people with diabetes receive an education course over the next 5 years.

Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, says in a statement: "Diabetes is a very serious and complex health condition that requires constant self-management. This can be extremely overwhelming, yet people with diabetes may only see their GPs and nurses a few times year, and if they fail to manage their diabetes effectively the results can be devastating.

"This is why it is essential that everyone with diabetes has a chance to learn about how to manage their condition well. In some areas thousands of people with diabetes have attended education courses that give them the confidence and skills to take control of their condition. They can be life-saving. So it is galling that in most places these courses have reached a fraction of those who could benefit.

"The new NHS ratings system for diabetes will help to drive improvements and reduce variation in access to education so it is essential that health leaders give it full priority.

"Diabetes is the fastest-growing health threat facing our nation and if we don’t get better at supporting people with diabetes to stay healthy we will continue to see high rates of debilitating complications and early death for many people with the condition as well as rising costs to the NHS."

More Information

Commenting on the report in an emailed statement, Jenifer Smith from Public Health England says: "It's important for us to increase public awareness about the risk factors for type 2 diabetes in order to prevent the number of people with the condition from increasing. The 'Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme' will help identify people who are at risk of type 2 Diabetes and give them the support and advice they need to reduce their risk."

A Department of Health spokesperson tells us by email: "It's really important that newly diagnosed people get the information they need to look after themselves. We are working with Diabetes UK to educate more people including improving information available online.

"To prevent people from developing the condition in the first place, the NHS is helping people who are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes to eat more healthily and be more active. By 2020 the NHS aims to be giving tailored support to 100,000 people a year."


Diabetes UK

Public Health England

Department of Health