A new online tool has been launched to help people with diabetes find out how well their local healthcare services are performing in key measures of diabetes care.

The Diabetes Watch tool, created by Diabetes UK with the support of Lilly Diabetes, is designed to help people with diabetes, local campaigners, NHS staff and politicians to get access to the information about diabetes services that can make a difference to how well our health is managed.

The tool compares the achievements of different regions in England, Scotland and Wales. People can use the tool to find out how well their area performs, compared to the national average, on 15 healthcare essentials – the health checks and services that everyone with diabetes needs. These include weight and blood glucose checks, monitoring for kidney, eye and foot complications, and offering support and education to manage diabetes.

Robin Hewings, head of policy for Diabetes UK, said empowering people with information about how their local diabetes services perform can lead to better care.

“There is a lot of data about diabetes, so it can be hard to see in a straightforward way how an area compares to others around it. The tool is a handy way for people to find out about the quality of services in their area, so that we can see where things are being done well and where we need to make the case for making things better. It also helps the NHS get better, by highlighting where it is doing things really well, because that makes it easier to learn from their success. The general principle that publishing comparative data improves healthcare has a good evidence base.”

The tool’s maps give a visual sense of variation between areas. This has highlighted the areas where more needs to be done, for example to reduce the number of older people who have foot amputations, a possible complication of diabetes. It has also revealed areas such as Liverpool and St Helens in the North West of England, where Hewings says local health services are doing “remarkably well” getting people with diabetes on self-education courses to help them learn how to manage their illness.

“Education courses are a really important way for people to learn more about their condition so that they are more able to look after themselves. But if there are places where lots of people are going on courses and in other places next door there are very few, that can give you a clue that there is room for improvement in the place which isn’t doing as well.”

As more NHS information is published the tool will be updated, for example on how many people across the country are benefitting from NHS health checks. For people who are living with a long term condition like diabetes, it is important to contribute and share their challenges and successes when living with diabetes – in order to improve services for everyone.

Lilly Diabetes are proud to be working alongside Diabetes UK on the Diabetes Watch Online Tool, supported by funding from Lilly.

UKCPR00162   October 2014