Some diabetes patients do not feel safe in hospital, charity says

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There is “still work to do to improve safety” for patients with diabetes in hospital, a charity has warned.

The comments from Diabetes UK come after an audit examined the state of care of diabetes patients in hospital in England and Wales.

It found that 18% of hospital beds in England and Wales are occupied by someone with diabetes.

But data from the National Diabetes Inpatient Audit 2017 found that almost a third of inpatients (31%) with diabetes experienced a medication error during their hospital stay – though this has reduced from last year.

And 18% suffered hypoglycemia – also known as a hypo – which occurs when a person’s blood sugar is too low.

Among patients with type 1 diabetes, one in 25 (4%) suffered diabetic ketoacidosis while in hospital – a serious and potentially life-threatening complication.

But the audit did show improvements in some areas – since 2010 there has been a 30% reduction in severe hypoglycemic rates, a 40% reduction in foot pressure ulcers occurring in hospital and reduction in all medication errors.

David Jones, assistant director of improvement support and innovation at Diabetes UK, said: “It is essential that people with diabetes feel safe when they stay in hospital.

“We have spoken to too many people who don’t, and these figures show that there is still work to do to improve safety.

“We need to do more to support diabetes teams to help their colleagues provide safe and appropriate care.”

The news comes as NHS England released data on its type 2 diabetes prevention programme which found that half of overweight people who attended at least eight support sessions over a nine-month period lost an average of 3.3kg.

The prevention programme is designed to stop or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes – which is linked to obesity and other lifestyle factors – through a range of personalised interventions such as education on lifestyle choices, healthy eating tips and bespoke physical activity programmes.

Three years after the programme was first announced, around 66,000 people have taken up places.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, who will be addressing a Diabetes UK conference on Wednesday, said: “The NHS is already leading the way in the battle against the obesity crisis by slashing the sale of sugary drinks and super-sized snacks in hospitals, and the results now coming out of our diabetes prevention programme are also positive.

“Obesity is the new smoking and the scale of our response needs to match the scale of the crisis.”

Last year Mr Stevens ordered hospitals to remove super-size chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sugary snacks from the shelves of their shops.

New figures show that one hospital retailer sold 1.1 million fewer single chocolate bars in the last year.

And 175,000 more pieces of fruit have been sold in hospital stores.

Figures released last month show the number of people living with diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years.

Diabetes UK said the condition is the “fastest growing health crisis of our time” as it found that the number of people diagnosed with the condition across the UK has reached almost 3.7 million – an increase of 1.9 million since 1998.

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