The Welsh Government has published new requirements for the NHS in Wales to improve diabetes care and better support people to manage their condition.
Diabetes affects around 7% of people in Wales and the Quality Statement for Diabetes sets out the key service priorities and national expectations for the development of better diabetes care.
It places an emphasis on good supportive care: helping people to learn how to manage their condition well by taking part in educational programmes, having routine support from healthcare services, and improving access to diabetes technology that can help people manage the condition.
Whilst Type 1 diabetes affects around 16,000 people in Wales and cannot be prevented, more than 190,000 people have type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented or delayed. Estimates suggest the prevalence of diabetes may rise to 10% of the population by 2035. When diabetes is not managed well, it can result in serious damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, and feet as well as cause diabetic emergencies for some people.
People with diabetes require significant support from NHS services to help manage the condition. It is important people get the right support for them once they have condition and new cases are prevented where possible. Part of the new approach is the roll out of support to people who are at highest risk of diabetes and the introduction of new remission services for newly diagnosed people who may be able to reverse the development of the condition. Additionally, £1m per year is being invested in the pre-diabetes prevention programme as part of the wider £13m investment under the Healthy Weight Healthy Wales Strategy.
Meeting patients who have been through the remission and education programmes, The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan said:
Today’s quality statement sets out how the NHS will diagnose and help people to manage their diabetes. It sets out the national priorities for service development and has a specific focus on prevention of type 2 diabetes and more broadly the prevention of the serious complications that can come with diabetes.
Diabetes also has a significant impact on our NHS. We are investing in programmes that support people to reach a healthy weight – which is the best prevention against diabetes 2. However, it is clear that we must do more to prevent cases of type 2 diabetes, which make up about 90% of new cases.
We need to make big systemic changes to create environments which encourage people to be more active. In a similar way, we need to ensure that everyone in Wales is able to access affordable heathy food. These changes reach beyond the NHS and need everyone in our society to do their part including helping to take the pressure off NHS services.
Rachel Burr, Director Diabetes UK Cymru:
Diabetes UK Cymru welcomes the new Quality Statement for Diabetes Care launched today. As a charity, we’re hopeful it will bring about tangible improvement in care for people living with diabetes across Wales.
Diabetes is relentless, it impacts every aspect of a person's life, and the lives of those close to them. People with all types of diabetes need access to routine screening and care, psychological support, and the offer of new technologies to be able to manage their diabetes in the best way possible.
With delivery of care in Wales still recovering from the pandemic, and further challenges now as we face a cost-of-living crisis, we look forward to bold changes in governance and delivery of care, so that everyone living with and affected by diabetes has access to equitable and consistent support and care.