City is ‘missing out on diabetes tests’ says charity

SHEFFIELD is failing to carry out a programme of NHS health checks, a charity claimed this week.

The city is one of only three areas in England not to give any of the tests for people aged 40 to 74 for the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and kidney failure during the last financial year, said Diabetes UK.

But NHS Sheffield, which oversees Sheffield Primary Care Trust, said there was a “robust” system for checking for diabetes without the need for the formal programme as part of a commitment to tackling health inequalities in the city.

Diabetes UK said not one person in Sheffield was given an NHS Health Check during 2011/12.

Linda Wood, regional manager for Diabetes UK Northern and Yorkshire, said: “People in Sheffield have a right to be angry about the failure of the local NHS to introduce a programme of testing that could help people live longer and healthier lives.

“It means that people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes are missing out on the information and support to enable them to make the lifestyle changes that can help prevent it. It is also vital that people with the condition are diagnosed as early as possible to reduce their risk of devastating health complications and early death.”

Every person who missed out on being diagnosed last year is at increased risk of amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.”

Ms Wood said “the complete lack of the NHS Health Check in Sheffield is a tragic failure. The NHS and local authority leaders in Sheffield have the responsibility to start giving people these checks.

“Until this happens they will be letting down local people who have either undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes or are at high risk of developing the condition.”

NHS Sheffield insisted that patients were not missing out on tests for diabetes.

A spokesperson said: “Within Sheffield we have led the way in encouraging GPs to assess patients’ cardiovascular risk through the nationally-recognised citywide initiative to reduce cardiovascular disease, which had a dramatic impact on deaths from coronary heart disease and reducing health inequalities in the city.

“This was the forerunner to the health checks, so in the past our patients were receiving checks very similar to these and we therefore did not feel the formal programme was the most cost-effective way to tackle health inequalities in the city, which we have always been committed to doing.

“We remain committed to providing the best possible care for everyone in Sheffield and a recent redesign of diabetes services in Sheffield has focused on improving the health and experience of people with diabetes.

“It has resulted in better diabetes control, better awareness of diabetes in the medical community and increased detection of hidden cases of diabetes.

“We are confident that we have a nationally-recognised, high-quality diabetes service in place in Sheffield with a robust programme in place to target those likely to be at highest risk.”