More than half of people diagnosed with severe mental illness and Type 2 diabetes in the south-west are not receiving vital health checks, new analysis from Diabetes UK shows.
Of the 5,280 people diagnosed with both conditions in the region, only 44 per cent were receiving annual reviews that could help prevent the devastating and costly complications of diabetes. The NHS advises that all people with diabetes should receive the eight NICE-recommended checks, including blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and foot checks.
When not well managed, Type 2 diabetes is associated with serious complications that include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and amputation, which over time can lead to disability and premature mortality.
The checks can show whether someone is at risk of or in the early stages of developing Type 2 diabetes-related complications. If signs are found, treatment can be offered to prevent or delay harmful effects to the blood vessels, kidneys, and nerves.
In England overall, where 73,000 have severe mental illness and Type 2 diabetes, there is huge variation of 60% between the best and worst-performing areas. Of Hackney residents with Type 2 diabetes and severe mental illness, 78% receive all checks, compared to only 18% in Wolverhampton.
Diabetes UK is urgently calling on the NHS to challenge poor standards of care for people with Type 2 diabetes and severe mental illness across the country and to move faster to better integration of mental health and diabetes care. It says the care of people with diabetes in mental health settings should ensure diabetes care is prioritised. This is particularly important because people with severe mental illness are at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes than the general population.
The standard of care can be improved by ensuring that mental health professionals who provide care for people affected by diabetes have knowledge of diabetes and its management, and an understanding of the impact the condition can have on physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. Mental health professionals working mainly with people with severe mental illness should also have the training to understand the associated mental health problems that can arise and are specific to diabetes, such as diabetes distress.
Phaedra Perry, Diabetes UK South West Regional Head, said:
“The health system should recognise that long term physical and mental health conditions often occur together and provide care that focuses on the whole person rather than a single condition. We need to bridge the divide between physical and mental health services to ensure those with severe mental illness and Type 2 diabetes do not have their physical care needs overlooked. It is critical that all care sees the whole person, and provides integrated support.”
Find out more about Diabetes UK’s campaign on mental health and diabetes care here.