The National Paediatric Diabetes Audit report, published today, shows that diabetic children and young people in Wales will be plunged into “a lifetime of ill-health and disease” unless standards of diabetes care and education do not drastically improve, say the Welsh Conservatives.
Data from the report, which was carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, shows that Wales lags behind England on a number of key health indicators.
For instance, the average blood glucose level (HbA1C) – a marker that measures overall diabetes control – in Welsh children remains a full point higher (68mmol/mol) than children in England, which is the same gulf that existed 10 years ago when data for the report was first taken.
Diabetes.co.uk state that the healthy blood glucose level for diabetics is 48 mmol/mol. For people with diabetes, achieving this target is important as the higher the HbA1c, the greater the risk of developing diabetes-related complications such as eye and kidney damage or cardiovascular disease.
Still more troubling is the 43% of children in Wales who in the past 10 years were recorded as having received education on how to manage their condition – this compared to 59% of children in England.
Obesity rates for Welsh children with diabetes aged from 0 to 12 years and older are also consistently and significantly higher than their counterparts in England. Eye health is also worse by over 10%, according to eye screening records.
Responding to the report, Welsh Conservative health spokesman Darren Millar AM said:
“This report lays bare a stark and alarming disparity between the health of diabetic children in Wales compared to those in England.
“It's a disgrace that diabetic children here are sicker, more overweight and less educated about their condition than their counterparts across the border, and this ticking time bomb must be addressed if unnecessary ill-health is to be prevented.
“The figures within the report show that unless standards of care and education do not significantly improve, thousands of our young people will be consigned to a lifetime of avoidable back-and-forth journeys to the GP and hospitals.
“The strain of this will not only be felt by our health service, but also the patients and their families, for whom a diminishing quality of life seems inevitable unless the Welsh Government takes urgent action is taken to address these findings."