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Diabetes and Asthma

Volume 551: debated on Tuesday 23 October 2012

5. What steps the Government are taking to help people cope with conditions such as diabetes and asthma. (124138)

We are working on an outcomes strategy for long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma structured around six shared goals, early diagnosis, integrated care, promoting independence, and steps to support those with long-term conditions to live as well as possible.

Given that type 1 diabetes in under-fives is growing at 5% each year, what can my right hon. Friend do with the innovative Secretary of State for Education to ensure that nursery and primary school staff have the right skills and knowledge to ensure that they can help young children to cope with type 1?

The answer is that we are doing quite a lot—a good booklet, “Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings”, goes around schools, and there are other resources for schools—but we need to do more. We will be announcing a diabetes action plan, a long-term conditions outcomes strategy and a cardiovascular disease outcomes strategy, which will go further to address the issues that my hon. Friend raises.

I declare my interest as someone who has type 2 diabetes and welcome what the Secretary of State says. However, according to the latest report, another 700,000 people will contract the disease by 2020, and 80% of amputations are avoidable. Could he ensure that this very important subject is on the agenda of local clinical commissioning groups?

I certainly can. The number of diabetes sufferers overall will go up from about 3.7 million, which is already 5% of the population, to 4.4 million. We need to do a lot better in how we look after people with long-term conditions if the NHS is to be sustainable. We can also do a lot to transfer the individual care of people who have diabetes through things such as technology, which I will look into carefully.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the effective delivery of care to people with long-term conditions relies on breaking down the silos within the health service, and between the health service, social care and social housing? Will he encourage the new health and wellbeing boards to follow through that agenda with a serious purpose?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. By 2018, nearly 3 million people will have not one but three long-term conditions. All too often, the system treats them on a disease or condition basis, and not as a human being who needs an integrated care plan. That is the route to lower costs, but it is also the route to transformed care.

The Public Accounts Committee has heard that, of 20 trusts that needed to improve their diabetes care, only three took the accepted help. How will the Secretary of State ensure that care through health providers meets the grand targets he has set for himself?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to point out that the consistency of provision is not good, but we will be publishing a diabetes action plan that will try to ensure more consistent provision throughout the NHS. We also need to raise our sights as to what is possible, because as I have mentioned, a third of the population have long-term conditions, and we can do much better at helping people to live with those conditions in a way that promotes their independence.