DIABETES patients in the county are not getting as many vital health checks to prevent blindness, loss of limbs and even death than patients in other parts of the region.

The charity Diabetes UK launched an awareness campaign today to get people to have a minimum of nine health checks each year, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

The figures, supplied by the National Diabetes Audit which are from 2010/11 (the latest available), show that in Worcestershire only 40.2 per cent of patients with diabetes had these checks compared to top-placed Herefordshire Primary Care Trust with a figure of 66 per cent. Only Stoke on Trent had a worse take up than Worcestershire for the tests (34.9 per cent).

There are 27,772 people diagnosed with diabetes (type one and two) in Worcestershire while an estimated 8,000 people remain undiagnosed. In Herefordshire there are 8,827 people diagnosed and just under 4,000 on top of this are undiagnosed.

The national average for people with diabetes getting all nine checks is 54.3 per cent and for the West Midlands the figure is 50.6 per cent. Getting these checks, which include things like measuring blood pressure and cholesterol, is vital for helping people with diabetes maintain good long-term health and avoid serious complications including heart disease, stroke, blindness and amputation.

The adverts in local surgeries, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies will set out the 15 Healthcare Essentials that Diabetes UK says every person with diabetes should be getting. By making sure people with diabetes know what care they are entitled to, the aim is to empower them to challenge their healthcare professionals if they are not getting this level of care.

Pete Shorrick, Midlands Regional Manager of Diabetes UK said: “We want to make sure people are aware of the care they should be getting and the adverts in surgeries, pharmacies, hospital and dental practices will help raise awareness of this. We hope that by engaging with people with diabetes in their doctor’s waiting room or in their pharmacy, will reinforce just how important it is for them to get all their checks and prompt them to ask their GP, or another healthcare professional, if they don’t think they are getting the support they are supposed to get and which they need to help them manage their condition.”

The 15 Healthcare Essentials can be downloaded at diabetes.org.uk/15-essentials-checklist or if you want to speak to someone call Diabetes UK’s Careline on 0845 120 2960.