Opinion Former Article

Diabetes UK: Health Bill risks fragmented care for people with diabetes

Leading health charity Diabetes UK is today (17 February) urging the Government to make vital changes to the new Health and Social Care Bill, warning that the integration and continuity of high quality care for people with diabetes could suffer as a consequence of competition policy and the fragmented commissioning of services.

The charity is submitting its written briefing to the Bill Committee today, expressing concerns that new arrangements could have a detrimental effect on the three million people with diabetes across England and mean they no longer have one healthcare body to turn to and hold accountable for providing integrated care.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said "Under the new proposed arrangements, different aspects of diabetes care could be commissioned by different bodies and services could fail to be joined up round the patient. The continuity of care which is vital to people with diabetes risks being damaged by fragmented commissioning arrangements and competition policy that could undermine partnership working and integrated care."

She added: "Care for three million people must not be put at risk by an unwillingness to provide adequate direction for the new commissioning bodies."

People with diabetes need access to a range of healthcare services, including specialist care. Specialists provide direct clinical care to those who need it and also training and support for generalist colleagues. This is vital as diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to devastating complications if not treated well, including stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and amputation.

The charity is calling on the Government to strengthen duties in the Bill to ensure all the commissioning bodies are required to collaborate to provide integrated care. It is also calling for strengthened duties to ensure people with diabetes and professionals with expertise in the condition are involved in the commissioning of integrated diabetes care. The duties of Monitor, the economic regulator, also need to include the integration of services not just the promotion of competition.

"The opening up of the health service provision to competition that the Bill encourages risks fragmentation of integrated services and networks of care as elements are delivered by different providers, especially those new to the healthcare economy," said Barbara.

Diabetes UK's submission to the Bill Committee today follows the charity's calls for change last week when it joined an alliance of leading health charities to urge MPs to put patient involvement at the heart of the health system.

The charity will now be meeting with members of the Bill committee to lobby on its concerns and encourage the relevant amendments to be made to the Bill for the benefit of people with diabetes.

Diabetes is one of the biggest and fastest rising health challenges facing the UK. Around 10 per cent of NHS spending goes on diabetes and its complications; this equates to £9 billion per year or £1 million an hour.

For more information about Diabetes please visit www.diabetes.org.uk

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For further media information please contact Katie Power on 020 7424 1164 or the Diabetes UK Media Relations Team on 0207 424 1165 or email pressteam@diabetes.org.uk

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