More than one million people in the North of England have diabetes – with 30,000 of those in Newcastle and Gateshead alone, and a massive 38,000 in County Durham.
That’s according to NHS Digital figures highlighted by the charity Diabetes UK at the beginning of Diabetes Week. And the charity is also concerned that thousands of people are not able to access the vital care for the condition which they need.
The charity pointed to figures which show how – across the North of England – just 34% of people with diabetes had all eight of the recommended health checks diabetes should have – and it’s understood this is worse in more deprived areas of the country.
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According to the latest figures, covering the year 2020-2021, in North Tyneside there are 14,241 diabetics, Northumberland had 22,911, South Tyneside 10,026, Sunderland 18,357. Newcastle and Gateshead has 30,323 and County Durham has a massive 38,062.
The charity has also conducted a survey of patients and said 48% had spoken of difficulties managing their condition during 2021. This was much more likely to be the case, according to the survey, for those living in the most deprived communities – with the figure rising to 56% there. 67% attributed this to not having enough access to healthcare.
Clare Howarth heads up Diabetes UK’s North of England team. She said: “Diabetes can’t wait. Without access to essential care people with diabetes risk serious complications, such as amputation, stroke, heart disease, sight loss and mental health problems.
“These complications devastate lives and can even lead to early death, yet we know these are all avoidable if people receive the care and support they need and deserve.
“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. Urgent action is now required, which is why we’re calling on the UK Government to prioritise the recovery of diabetes care.”
She said she hoped the Government would recommit to improving outcomes for diabetics in the NHS Long Term Plan.
The Government has continually affirmed that it recognises the seriousness of diabetes. Most recently in May a spokesperson said: “We recognise the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of early intervention, and our NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has helped over a million people receive support for healthy behavioural changes to avoid type 2 diabetes since 2016.
“Additionally, our NHS Low Calorie Diet programme, which provides low-calorie diet treatment for eligible patients, has now been extended across half the country, with a further 11 locations starting delivery in early 2022.”
The spokesperson said the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid had been clear about his “priority” to tackle health disparities. Diabetes Week runs from June 13 to June 19.