Published on 22 June 2015

Health providers are failing people with type 2 diabetes by not providing adequate education on how to self-manage the condition, according to a leading NHS researcher.

A recently published survey of more than 2,700 people revealed that 42% of people with type 2 diabetes do not feel confident in managing their condition.

The findings of the survey (carried out by Diabetes UK) suggest that many hundreds of thousands of people with type 2 diabetes do not have access to the “basic and fundamental right” of self-management education they need to manage their condition in order to reduce the risk of developing devastating health complications.

Dr Marian Carey is part of the group which founded the NHS gold standard education course for type 2 diabetes, DESMOND, and is the Director of the Structured Education Research Portfolio at the Leicester Diabetes Centre.

Dr Marian Carey

Dr Carey said: “There are well-established standards and guidelines recommending structured self-management education programmes and an abundance of good evidence demonstrating this support, alongside medication, results in improved health outcomes. Some primary health care providers have got the equation right – so we know education can be provided effectively and at low cost.

“Yet despite this evidence there are many CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) still not offering structured self-management education programmes. In times of austerity no CCG would dream of suggesting that medication should be rationed to save money, but these same organisations are quite willing to cut access to education, or not offer it at all.

“We know that people don’t feel confident about managing their diabetes. Without proper education opportunities to develop the necessary skills, they are at risk of life-changing complications, which cause them misery and costs the NHS money.

“If those with the power to act do not provide people with this basic and fundamental right, people with diabetes and the NHS will unfortunately have to continue to face the consequences.”

Only 16% of people with diabetes in England and Wales are offered a diabetes education course when they are diagnosed, despite the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommending it is offered to everyone with diabetes and strong evidence that giving people the skills to manage their diabetes effectively can significantly improve their quality of life.

DESMOND is an NHS programme which teaches people with type 2 diabetes how to manage their condition and is delivered by more than 90 NHS trusts.

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