Quarter of people who die from coronavirus in England have diabetes

by health and nutrition advice journalist

More than a quarter of all NHS patients who have died after being infected with Covid-19 had diabetes, according to new statistics from NHS England.

Between 31 March and 12 May, a total of 5,873 patients with diabetes died in hospital from Covid-19, 26 per cent of all coronavirus deaths.

It is the first time data on hospital deaths and underlying health conditions has been revealed by the NHS.

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People with diabetes have previously been described as being at moderate risk from the virus and were not part of the groups told to shield themselves in their homes due to fears they were at extreme risk.

Around 6 per cent of the population is believed to have diabetes, suggesting those with diabetes are being disproportionately affected by the virus.

The NHS England data does not specifically say whether type 1 or type 2 was more prevalent among deaths. It said work was underway to understand the deaths data to include examining the type of diabetes, ethnicity and weight of those who died.

NHS England said it was working with Diabetes UK to provide support and advice to patients via its helpline which will include volunteer clinical advisers.

Bridget Turner, director of policy at Diabetes UK, said: “The fact that more than a quarter of people who have died with Covid-19 have diabetes underlines the urgent need to ensure better protection and extra support is available to those in the clinically vulnerable groups.

“We also need urgent action from government to understand the detail behind this figure, including diabetes type, age, ethnicity, medical history and comorbidities of those who have sadly died, so that we can know how to keep all people with diabetes safe.”

Also included in the data were the numbers of patients who died from Covid-19 with dementia, a total of 4,048 patients, or 18 per cent of the total. Those with chronic pulmonary disease made up 15 per cent of the deaths, or 3,254.

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Patients with chronic kidney disease accounted for 14 per cent of Covid-19 deaths, a total of 3,214.

NHS England has published data on deaths and underlying health conditions today after a commitment to reveal the deaths of patients with mental health and learning disabilities and autism.

According to the data 1,020 patients died in hospitals between 24 March and 12 May who were also described as having a mental health condition, 5 per cent of all coronavirus fatalities.

A total of 451 patients who died were described as having a learning disability or autism. These patients accounted for around 4 per cent of the total deaths from Covid-19.

There were 76 patient deaths in specific mental health and learning disability units, NHS England said. Of these, 14 patients had been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Deborah Coles, director of charity Inquest, said: “Transparency is essential to ensure the human rights of detained people are protected. Yet this data raises more questions than it provides answers.

“Such data is meaningless without the broader context and disaggregation by gender, age, ethnicity, place of death and providers, including private providers. This continues the systemic failure to provide detailed information about deaths of people in mental health, learning disability and/or autism settings.”

She added: “​It is critical that more comprehensive data is regularly published to understand not only the direct impact of Covid-19 but the indirect impact on therapeutic services, the use of restraint, medication, seclusion and self-inflicted deaths. Ultimately, the stronger the data analysis, the greater the opportunity to implement changes to safeguard lives.”

Separately, the Care Quality Commission has published data today showing between 10 April and 8 May, in learning disabilities and autism settings, there were 3,765 deaths compared to 1,370 in the same period last year. But the regulator has stressed the real number is likely to be a lot lower as the care providers treat many different patients.

Dr Rhidian Hughes, from the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), said: “People with learning disabilities and/or autism already face significant health inequalities. We are two months into the pandemic response and that it has taken this long for CQC data to come to light showing the potential impact of Covid-19 on people with a learning disability is appalling. This highlights structural inequities at work.

“VODG has been calling on the government and its agencies to release data on the deaths of people with a learning disability and autism. Today’s figures from CQC are a step forward but we are still miles away from having data that clearly sets out the true picture of how this pandemic is impacting upon disabled people.”

Partha Kar, national adviser for diabetes at NHS England, said: “It is clear that people with diabetes are more at risk of dying from Covid-19 and more detailed analysis is currently underway to understand the link between the two although initial findings indicate that the threat in people under 40 continues to be very low.

“The NHS has put extra measures in place so that people living with diabetes can manage their condition better during the pandemic, including a range of online services, video consultations with your local clinical team and a dedicated helpline for those who need advice.”

This content was originally published here.

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