A recent national diabetes audit examining differences in patient care across the UK has revealed that almost 60 per cent of those with diabetes are NOT receiving effective care - despite the fact that 90 per cent of diabetic patients are now meeting healthcare teams at least once a year. Of nine recommended care processes that each diabetic patient should be offered, routine urine tests to detect early stage kidney failure is still the least used test - over a third of patients were NOT offered one. Statistics might seem dry but the fact that there has been a 20 per cent increase since 2003 of diabetics needing kidney dialysis or transplant demonstrates how serious these patient care 'oversights' can be.
These variances in health care across the UK are simply unacceptable. If there is a routine list of tests that should be done on diabetic patients, then a GP should simply print it off and tick them off as he or shes goes along. It doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.
It's interesting to note that the data was compiled by statistics offered by Patient Care Trusts (PCT). For those of you who don't know, a PCT is a local body operating within or across a few boroughs that decide how its local 'money pot' should be spent. I've had enough dealings with my PCT to think of a more appropriate four letter word to represent the 'C' in the acronym. No doubt I'll mention the PCT again in my blog, but in my opinion they have more power then they should have and make random monetary decisions about treatment which is never based on what is best for a patient. And often their money saving initiatives are short sighted: it's more economical to keep a patients diabetes under control then deal with the costly consequences such as dialysis and complicated operations.
So, if you have diabetes or any long term illness then do your research. Get in touch with the charity that represents your illness, talk to other patients on health forums and go to your GP armed with facts. If it was me I'd print out the nine key tests that I need, ask for them to be done and insist on a referral to a hospital specialist team if my GP wasn't able to do them.
Until changes are made in the NHS to provide truly universal care, then knowledge really is power when it comes to managing your long-term health.