New diabetes plan for Wales unveiled by Welsh government

Woman testing blood sugar levels
Image caption About 7% of the Welsh population now have some form of diabetes

Plans to improve diabetes care, and reduce the disease in Wales, have been unveiled by the Welsh government.

It now affects about 7% of adults in Wales, with health officials expecting that to rise to 11.5% by 2030.

The plan will focus on patient education, a new management system for monitoring the disease, and more support for children.

The charity Diabetes UK Cymru said it welcomed the initiative as an important step in tackling the issue.

Dai Williams, the national director for the charity, said the Welsh government had "finally woken up" to the problem in Wales.

"It is costing the NHS in Wales half-a-billion pounds a year. That's 10% of every health board budget going on diabetes," he said.

"This new plan shows a real commitment by Welsh government to improve standards of care for people living with diabetes.

"It is now up to local health boards across the country to take this blueprint for diabetes care and put it into practice."

The new plan follows an assembly-led inquiry into how the disease was previously being tackled.

It found that about 160,000 people in Wales had the condition, with another 350,000 showing pre-diabetes symptoms of higher than normal blood sugar levels.

'Effective self-management'

The latest plan set out by the government emphasises the need to help those with the disease to "do more to help themselves".

In a bid to drive long-term improvements, the NHS in Wales will also introduce a new diabetes patient management system to ensure good clinical data on the disease can be gathered and help deliver more tailored care.

The plan states that it wants the health service in Wales to detect and diagnose diabetes quickly so patients can start "effective self-management" of the condition.

The delivery programme also wants to help children with the most severe form of the disease, type 1 diabetes, understand how to manage their condition effectively, including while in school.

Finally, the plan outlines ways it is hoped the incidence of diabetes can be reduced, through education and promoting lifestyle changes.

"A combined approach of promoting healthy eating and increased physical activity is essential as these are key factors in the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes," states the plan.

Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford said: "There is a growing prevalence of diabetes in Wales and we have to find new ways of delivering world class care in these times of financial austerity.

"Effective self-management of diabetes is essential for helping individual wellbeing but also avoiding unnecessary admissions to hospitals.

"It is not only a matter of working harder, but working smarter. This framework prepared with clinicians, patients, third sector groups and others will now help the NHS in Wales do just that."

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