AT least a third of diabetics in the region are not receiving proper care – contributing to a shocking 24,000 unnecessary deaths every year in England.
And the blackspot is Middlesbrough, where less than half of diabetics receive a full nine checks to prevent complications such as blindness and amputation, a study has revealed.
But, even in the best areas – including Hartlepool, Stockton and North Yorkshire – no more than 69 per cent are given all the “care processes”, according to Parliament’s spending watchdog.
Yet the checks were recommended in a National Service Framework for Diabetes, published by the Department of Health (DoH), as long ago as 2001.
Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the all-party Commons public accounts committee, said it was completely unacceptable that the quality of care depended on a “postcode lottery”.
She added: “It is shocking that 24,000 people with diabetes are dying unnecessarily each year. The department has spent 11 years on this, but is still failing to deliver the standards of care it promised.”
In England, barely half of the 3.1m people with diabetes received the regular NHS checks intended to keep them as healthy as possible, the National Audit Office (NAO) found.
The care is meant to be provided annually, to measure blood pressure blood glucose and cholesterol levels, examine eyes for damage to the retina and check the skin, circulation and nerve supply to feet.
The DoH has admitted that 24,000 diabetics die prematurely every year from conditions related to their diabetes which could have been prevented, the report concluded.
The primary care trusts (PCTs) in County Durham, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland gave the full nine checks to only 55-59 per cent of diabetics, in 2009-10.
In the worst two areas – Mid Essex and Swindon – under ten per cent of people with the condition were properly treated, the NAO said.
Meanwhile, the number of diabetics is predicted to rise sharply by the end of the decade, by about eight per cent in most of the region – but by ten per cent in the worst-hit areas.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, described the report as “a damning indictment of the current approach to the condition”.
She said. “It has been clear for the past ten years what needs to happen to fix the problem, but the plan the Government published on this has never been implemented.”
Paul Burstow, the Care Services Minister, welcomed the report, insisting it confirmed what ministers already knew about the variable standards of care patients receive.
The DoH was already drawing up a new outcomes strategy for all patients with a longterm condition, the minister added.