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NHS is urged to better integrate mental health and diabetes care

By Editor
8th October 2019
Care planning, Charity NHS England Type 2 diabetes

Half of people diagnosed with severe mental illness and type 2 diabetes in England and Wales are not receiving vital checks that could help prevent devastating and costly complications, according to Diabetes UK research.

The NHS advises that all people with diabetes, should receive the eight NICE recommended checks – including blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and foot checks.

When not managed, type 2 diabetes is associated with serious complications that include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and amputation— which over time can lead to disability and premature mortality.

The checks can show whether someone is at risk of, or in the early stages of developing the health complications associated with type 2 diabetes. If signs of complications are found, treatment can be offered to prevent or delay harmful effects to the blood vessels, kidneys, and nerves.

Severe mental illness

There is huge variation of 60 per cent between the best and worst performing areas across England with 78 per cent of Hackney residents with type 2 diabetes and severe mental illness receiving all checks compared to only 18 per cent in Wolverhampton.

We need to bridge the divide between physical and mental health services to ensure those with severe mental illness and type 2 diabetes do not have their physical care needs overlooked

Diabetes UK is urgently calling on the NHS to challenge poor standards of care for people with type 2 diabetes and severe mental illness across the country and to move faster to better integration of mental health and diabetes care.

It says the care of people with diabetes in mental health settings should ensure diabetes care is prioritised. This is particularly important because people with severe mental illness are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes than the general population.

The standard of care can be improved by ensuring that mental health professionals who provide care for people affected by diabetes have knowledge of diabetes and its management, and an understanding of the impact the condition can have on physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing.

Mental health professionals working mainly with people with severe mental illness should also have training to understand the associated mental health problems that can arise and are specific to diabetes, such as diabetes distress.

Nikki Joule, Policy Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “The health system should recognise that long term physical and mental health conditions often occur together and provide care that focuses on the whole person rather than a single condition.

“We need to bridge the divide between physical and mental health services to ensure those with severe mental illness and type 2 diabetes do not have their physical care needs overlooked. It is critical that all care sees the whole person, and provides integrated support.”

To find out more about Diabetes UK’s campaign on mental health and diabetes care, click here.

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