Calderdale Council and NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are urging people with diabetes to access the support available to them, to help stay safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes as NHS England introduces extra ways to help people living with diabetes, because new research shows they are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19.
A recent NHS study found that a third of coronavirus deaths in England are associated with diabetes. To help people manage the condition during the outbreak, the NHS has launched a new dedicated helpline for people being treated with insulin, and web-based tools such as video consultations and online appointments.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. 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. The threat for those under 40 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is very low, with no recorded deaths in those under 20.
Deborah Harkins, Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, said:
“Anyone living with diabetes is at risk of becoming seriously unwell if they get COVID-19, but the impact will vary from person to person. The best thing to do is manage the condition by following your usual routine, including checking your feet daily, eating healthily and keeping as active as possible. It’s also vital for everyone to follow the stay at home and social distancing guidance at all times – this will protect you and others.”
Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Tim Swift, said:
“We want to reassure people with diabetes that there is lots of extra support available to help them through this difficult time. We urge them to make the most of this support, especially if they spot any new symptoms that they’re concerned about.”
Dr Steven Cleasby, Clinical Chair of NHS Calderdale CCG, said:
“There may be some confusion, because of the coronavirus, about what services are currently available to people in Calderdale living with diabetes. However, as a GP I want people to know that the NHS is still here for them, and for their loved ones.
“If you have diabetes and you notice something you’re worried about, feeling very thirsty, losing weight, a cut or blister on your foot, please contact your GP surgery via the NHS App, via the surgery website, or by phone.
“You may receive a phone call from your practice nurse, pharmacist or GP, or a video-call may be arranged if suitable. This allows us to maintain social distancing and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Patients who the GP needs to examine in person will be seen at an appropriate site. If you can’t get through, or you need help over the weekend, call 111.
“Things may have changed slightly, but all the support you’re used to is still here.”
Advice for people living with diabetes:
- Like everyone, stay at home whenever possible. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect the NHS and care homes and save lives. If you do need to leave home you should follow the Government guidance on Staying safe outside your home(external link). As well as social distancing, you can reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by washing your hands(external link)with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face and follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it(external link)’ guidance.
- For more information about the new support measures introduced by the NHS, visit england.nhs.uk/2020/05/nhs-expands-offer-of-help-to-people-with-diabetes-during-coronavirus-outbreak/(external link)
- If you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening emergency, call 999.
- If you are experiencing the four Ts – toilet, thirsty, tired and thinner – these are signs of a life-threatening diabetic emergency, diabetic ketoacidosis or ‘DKA’ and you should seek urgent medical advice from your GP (or 111 out of hours); from your diabetes team if you already have diabetes; or ring 999 if you feel very unwell.
- If you see a cut or blister on your foot, it may be a sign of a foot ulcer – get it checked with your GP as soon as possible. If you notice any change in your vision, contact your local screening service or optometrist.
- If you have diabetes and have been contacted by your specialist eye or foot care team, please go to your appointments for treatment to avoid problems getting worse. Clinics are taking extra protective measures to keep people safe.
- Plan ahead where possible. Try to order your next prescription for medication at least 14 days before it is due.
- Diabetes UK has worked with Novo Nordisk and Insulet to set up a helpline dedicated to helping people who need advice on using insulin to manage their diabetes. Call 0345 123 2399 or go to diabetes.org.uk/how_we_help/helpline(external link)