North Somerset NHS slammed over ‘tragic failure’

‘URGENT action is needed’ to ensure North Somerset patients receive vital medical checks which could save them from blindness and strokes.

That is the view of Diabetes UK, which describes the lack of NHS health checks being offered to people in the district as ‘a tragic failure’.

The charity’s new report Let’s Get It Right says just 1.6 per cent of eligible people in North Somerset were offered the checks in 2011-12 – compared to a national average of nearly 14 per cent.

And as the checks are a key way to detect diabetes – complications from which can also lead to amputations or kidney failure – the body says people are being ‘let down’ by the local NHS.

Graham Cooper, South West regional manager for Diabetes UK, said: “The failure to properly implement the NHS Health Check in North Somerset has potentially dire consequences.

“It means that people at high risk of type two diabetes are missing out on the information and support to make the lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.

“It is also vital that people with the condition are diagnosed as early as possible to reduce their risk of complications and those people in North Somerset who missed being diagnosed last year are at increased risk of amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.

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“Put together, this means the poor implementation of the NHS Health Check in North Somerset is a tragic failure.

“NHS and local authority leaders in the area need to start giving this programme a much higher priority than has previously been the case.

“Until this happens, it will be letting down local people. Urgent action is needed.”

NHS North Somerset countered by saying Diabetes UK had revealed ‘only part of the story’ and steps have already been taken to improve performance.

A spokesman said: “We have been working closely alongside GP practices to support them in the delivery of this new service by providing training, equipment and resources and considerable improvements have been made over the last six months.

“The number of NHS Health Checks delivered by North Somerset practices between April and the end of June in 2012 in fact increased 14-fold compared with the average number delivered each quarter last year.

“Despite a slow start we are confident that over the next year or two we will achieve the challenging target on health checks set by the Government.”

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