Diabetes is one of the most serious public health challenges facing our country. Diagnoses have doubled in the last 15 years and the number of people living with the condition is estimated at close to five million. A further 13.6 million people are now at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Concerted action is needed to improve care and treatment for everyone living with diabetes, alongside better access to technologies that will support self-management. Investment in public health and measures to support the prevention of type 2 diabetes are also crucial.
The pandemic has had a huge impact across society and research shows that people with diabetes have been disproportionately affected. A report by Diabetes UK finds that a third of people with diabetes have had no contact with their healthcare professional team during the pandemic and one in three people are waiting for a cancelled appointment to be rescheduled. This is completely unacceptable, and highlights a clear failing from the Government to support those living with diabetes across the country.
Yet even before the pandemic waiting lists were rising. Support for this with diabetes has been inadequate for far too long and has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Years of underfunding, cuts and understaffing weakened and exposed our health service as the pandemic hit. As a result, waiting lists now stand at a record 5.6 million, with over 293,000 patients waiting for more than a year for treatment.
It is essential that diabetes is a priority in the recovery from the pandemic. I am concerned, however, that the Government’s plan to increase taxes to pay for health and care will disproportionately hit working people hard, including low earners and young people. And Ministers have refused to guarantee that the funding will be sufficient to clear NHS backlogs.
In my view, the taxes that pay for health and care should be fair across the generations and all forms of income; those with the broadest shoulders should pay more.
I urge the Government to ensure diabetes care and prevention is a priority in the recovery from COVID-19. Ministers should bring forward a proper plan that will tackle backlogs and ensure our health service has the staff and modern equipment to deliver the care and treatment patients need. This should be supported by improved access to new technologies that will allow people living with diabetes to better manage their condition.
I have written to Sajid Javid to press the Government to prioritise funding for diabetes care and to improve the service currently offered. Please see a copy of this letter below: