Support for People with Diabetes as New Study Highlights COVID-19 Risks

21 May 2020 2:45pm

People who have diabetes in the Midlands are being urged by health leaders to access the support available to them, which includes a new dedicated helpline and online tools to help manage the condition during the pandemic.

The plea comes as new NHS research has revealed that people living with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19.

The study shows that people living with Type 1 diabetes are at three and a half times the risk, and people living with Type 2 are at double the risk of dying in hospital with the virus, compared to people without diabetes.

However, by far the strongest risk factor for dying with the virus is age, and people with Type 1 diabetes are on average younger than people with Type 2 diabetes.

Overall, 7,466 of those who died in hospitals in England had type 2 and 365 who died had Type 1 diabetes, and the research suggests that the threat for those under 40 with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is very low.

Video consultations and online appointments, as well as routine discussions with GPs, are among a range of measures that the NHS has adopted so that diabetes care can continue throughout the pandemic.

A dedicated helpline – 0345 123 2399 – has also been introduced, together with Diabetes UK, Novo Nordisk and Insulet, to advise those who need help with insulin.

Patients will also receive additional support from online education services for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to help them to manage their condition better.

The new helpline is part of a package of measures already in place for people with diabetes or at risk, including the world-leading Diabetes Prevention Programme, which has already successfully helped almost 90,000 people who were at risk of type 2, to lose a combined weight of more than 407, 967 pounds. NHS England and NHS Improvement has also produced a special video which helps people with diabetes to look after their feet. The video is available here.

Nigel Sturrock, Medical Director at NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands, said:

“This research shows the extent of the risk of coronavirus for people with diabetes and the different risks for those with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Importantly, it also shows that higher blood glucose levels and obesity further increase the risk in both types of diabetes.

“This can be worrying news but we would like to reassure people that the NHS is here for anyone with concerns about diabetes – and has put extra measures in place to help people and keep them safe, including online sites to support people to care for themselves, telephone and digital consultations, and a dedicated new helpline for advice and support for people treated with insulin.”

People with diabetes are also advised:

  • If you are concerned about your diabetes during the coronavirus pandemic, the NHS is here to help. Contact your GP practice or Diabetes team.
  • If you have diabetes and have been contacted by your specialist eye or foot care team, please go to your appointments to receive treatment to avoid these problems getting worse. Clinics are taking extra protective measures to keep people safe.
  • The 4Ts – toilet, thirsty, tired and thinner – are signs of a life-threatening diabetic emergency, diabetic ketoacidosis or ‘DKA’. If you recognise these signs, seek urgent medical advice from your GP practice (or 111 out of hours); if you already have diabetes, contact your Diabetes team; or if you feel very unwell, call 999.
  • If you have diabetes and see a cut or blister on your foot, it may be a sign of a foot ulcer. Call your GP practice to get it checked as soon as possible. If you do have an ulcer or other serious foot problem, you will be referred to see a specialist urgently.
  • If you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening emergency – call 999.