Charity sounds alarm over excess deaths linked to diabetes

The number of “excess deaths” linked to diabetes has risen to higher than expected levels, a charity has warned.

Diabetes UK said that there were more than 7,000 excess deaths in England linked to the condition in 2022, which is 13% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

It said that the majority of these were “were not attributable directly to Covid-19”.

And the charity said that between January and March this year there were 1,461 excess deaths involving diabetes.

It said that “urgent action” is needed to reverse the trend.

The charity suggested that the figures could be “linked to the backlog in routine diabetes care caused by the pandemic” as it called for more to be done to support people to “live well” with the condition.

A new report from the charity also includes a poll of patients to find out how many received all of the recommended annual check-ups which are supposed to help reduce the risk of complications among people living with the condition.

It said the poll, conducted by the charity on more than 11,000 people in England living with the condition, found that 47% received all of the checks in 2021 or 2022, down from 57% pre-pandemic.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “This routine care can be lifesaving, and help prevent other serious complications such as amputations, strokes and heart disease.

“Yet far too many people with diabetes are being left to go it alone managing this challenging and potentially fatal condition, with deeply alarming numbers of checks either missed or delayed.

“We know health professionals are working incredibly hard to give people the care they need, but they are just too stretched to provide the time and personalised support that is required – and it’s having a catastrophic impact.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – the largest programme of its kind in the world – has helped over 18,000 people avoid type 2 diabetes through expert advice on healthy eating and exercise.

“Our Major Conditions Strategy will cover type 2 Diabetes and help to reduce pressure on the NHS.”