NHS diabetes care for children and young people is at its best in eight years, according to a major paediatric diabetes audit.
The audit found overall improvements in children’s HbA1c levels (a measure of blood glucose control) and the number receiving all eight recommended tests.
However, there has been a major increase in the number of children with diabetic ketoacidosis, and children’s care remains less effective than for adults.
The National Paediatric Diabetes Audit, conducted by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), surveyed 23,676 children and young people with diabetes in England and Wales.
It found that 6% had received all eight NICE-recommended tests (compared to 4% in 2009/10 and 2% in 2004/05) – by contrast, so had over 50% of adults with diabetes.
The percentage of children and young people with diabetes whose HbA1c levels are below the target (7.5%) was 16%, compared to 14.5% in 2009/10 – however, this compares poorly with the German figure (34%).
The audit also uncovered marked variation in children’s HbA1c levels across different care units, with the proportion of patients reaching the control target ranging from 2.9% to 33.8%.
Nearly a third of children and young people showed HbA1c levels above 9.5%, a dangerous level. Worse, the proportion diagnosed with ketoacidosis has increased from 8.5 to 15 per 100,000 since 2005, and this potentially lethal symptom is becoming more prevalent in female teenagers.
Dr Justin Warner, RCPCH lead, said: “Although the proportion of patients receiving all eight care processes remains low, what we’re seeing is improvements in the recording of all eight measures independently.
“Only with good data can we really start to make inroads into improving care for the infants, children and young people with diabetes in England and Wales.”