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Diabetes UK: A Comprehensive Guide to Support and Resources

Written by: Content Team



Time to read 9 min

Diabetes is a complicated and misunderstood condition. Knowing what to expect when you first receive a diagnosis can feel overwhelming, but there's plenty of support available. The NHS, private care, and charities, among many others, can support you in adapting to life with diabetes.

In this post, we'll provide a comprehensive insight into how you can manage your condition. Finding diabetes support is less challenging when you know what's available.

Diabetes Care from the NHS

The NHS provides a comprehensive management package for people living with diabetes.

The type of care you receive depends on your condition. Type 1 diabetics receive more input from healthcare professionals than type 2 diabetics due to the condition’s severity and its chronic nature.

Receiving Treatment from Healthcare Professionals

Diabetes care is often provided by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals. They include:

  • Your GP: Your primary care doctor is often the first point of contact. They can support you with everything from the initial diagnosis and lifestyle changes to making referrals if your condition changes.
  • Nurses: Many people with diabetes benefit from seeing a specialist nurse. This may be the person you build the closest relationship with, and they'll understand your condition well.
  • Endocrinologists: These doctors specialise in hormone-related conditions and research, including diabetes. They provide advanced care for severe cases, so view not seeing one as a sign your case is mild.
  • Dietitians: Nutritional experts can help people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes manage their diets. They guide you towards making better food choices for balanced blood sugar levels.
  • Podiatrists: Foot complications pose a huge risk to people with diabetes due to nerve damage and poor circulation. They detect problems early and help prevent further complications.
  • Counsellors: Having diabetes may impact your mental health, especially if you find adjusting difficult. If you struggle with that, talk to your GP; they can refer you to a psychologist.

The number of healthcare professionals involved in providing your diabetes care will vary according to the severity of your condition.

Community Groups

The NHS offers access to community groups that help people at all stages of their diabetes journey. For example:

  • Pre-Diabetes: Some GPs may identify individuals who are at risk of type 2 diabetes and refer them to a support group for prevention purposes. The Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme encourages healthy lifestyle changes in pre-diabetes patients.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: The NHS recommends using the support groups provided by the charity Diabetes UK. These groups are available online and offline.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Patients with type 1 diabetes can also resort to the same groups the NHS encourages type 2 diabetes patients to try. They also recommend seeking psychological therapies when needed.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Some antenatal classes may offer additional support and a sense of community for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Ask your midwife if there's a meeting available in your area.

Private Care for Managing Diabetes

While the NHS is the mainstay of diabetes care in the UK, private options are also available.

The two main avenues to accessing private diabetes care in the UK are self-funded and employer-sponsored health insurance. You can also access services without a plan, but you'll need to cover the costs out of pocket.

There are some advantages to choosing private diabetes care, including:

  • Faster Treatment: Diabetes referrals and interventions are quicker, as you can bypass NHS waiting lists.
  • Flexibility: You're more likely to schedule an appointment at a time that's convenient for you. This makes it easier to manage your diabetes alongside other obligations.
  • More Choice: You can secure continuity of care by choosing your consultant for each appointment. Managing your symptoms may also be easier, as you can choose different insulin delivery methods, including needleless injections and innovative medications.
  • Extra Time: Private appointments are often less rushed, making it easier for you to manage your diabetes in a calm setting and get all your questions answered.
  • Privacy: If you do need hospital admission for any reason, you're less likely to share a ward with other patients.

Always understand your insurance policy thoroughly when looking at private diabetes care, as some policies place heavy restrictions on what is and isn’t covered.

If you're self-funding, remember that minimum costs are a baseline that can soon rise depending on test results and complications.

Community and Social Services

Some people with diabetes find that the impact of their diagnosis extends beyond the immediate health effects.

Community and social services may be for you if you have another health condition, a disability, or severe diabetes complications that affect your daily life.

Social Prescribing

Social prescribing services involve using a link worker to help you connect with certain agencies. For example, if your condition is making it difficult for you to stay in employment, your link worker can help you with housing and financial advice.

You can learn more about social prescribing in different areas of the NHS here:

Community Nursing Teams

Not everyone with diabetes requires help from a district or community nurse. However, if you need help injecting insulin or managing wounds, your GP may refer you to the community nursing service.

Community nursing is available in home settings and local centres. Whether or not you receive home visits will depend on how mobile you are.

Diabetes UK and Other Charities

Charities across the UK provide additional support to people living with diabetes. While some take a broad approach, others have specific missions.

Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is the UK's leading diabetes charity. It provides online and offline support groups and campaigns for better care and treatment. The charity also provides resources, including self-guided education packages.

If Welsh is your first language, Diabetes UK has a branch called Diabetes Cymru. It provides access to local groups and essential resources for Welsh speakers.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

JDRF's primary focus is finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. They also offer support to those living with the condition and their family members.

Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation

DRWF focuses on research and offering wellness advice to those living with diabetes. Their mission statement is "Staying well until a cure is found." They aim to help you live a healthy life free from complications, but curing diabetes is their ultimate goal.

DRWF also has a children's foundation. It offers support to children and their family members, including resources for managing diabetes in young people.

Diabetes Scotland

Diabetes Scotland is a charity that focuses on helping people with diabetes in Scotland. Some of their most successful campaigns include establishing diabetes education hubs in libraries across the country. As a result, patients can learn how to manage their diabetes without internet access.

Educational Resources

Evidence shows that access to diabetes education improves blood sugar levels and reduces complications. Many programmes aim to understand the physiology of diabetes, how to make lifestyle changes, and the importance of adhering to treatment programmes.

DESMOND for Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed focuses on providing support to people with type 2 diabetes. As an NHS service, its education programmes are evidence-based and approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

DESMOND provides a unique suite of programs, including

  • Applications you can use on the go
  • Diabetes care during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting in Islam
  • Prevention programmes
  • Newly diagnosed educational packs

NHS Healthy Living for Type 2 Diabetes

The NHS Healthy Living programme offers support to those living with type 2 diabetes. It's also a useful resource for family members who may need help understanding their relative's condition.

Completing the course makes it easier for you to understand what to expect from your diabetes care. For example, you'll learn more about the NHS resources available to you and how you can access them.

The course also covers becoming more active, eating well, and looking after your body and mind. There's no time limit, so you can complete it at your own pace.


Dose Adjustment for Normal Eating provides courses that focus on minimizing the risk of long-term complications in patients with type 1 diabetes. You'll learn how to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range through healthy eating and taking the right insulin dose.

Courses are available remotely and on a face-to-face basis. DAFNE also offers training to healthcare professionals.

Local Courses

Many NHS trusts offer local courses with the providers above or through other programmes. Attending a local course allows you to meet other people with diabetes, making it easier for you to find a support network.

If you're interested in a local course, ask your specialist diabetes nurse or GP for advice. Attending a programme in your area will give you a greater insight into nearby available services.

Other Useful Resources for Diabetics

Living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can have a profound impact on your life. As you learn to manage your symptoms, different types of food, and treatments such as insulin, you may need help in various areas.

Understanding your legal rights and how the NHS shapes its guidelines can make your life easier. This is especially true when it comes to navigating your role in the workplace and accessing certain services.

Diabetes and the Equality Act

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are classified as disabilities under the Equality Act. This means your employer must make reasonable workplace adjustments to accommodate your condition.

What a reasonable adjustment may look like varies according to your job and the nature of your condition. However, The Skills Network notes that employers may need to:

  • Provide time and space for employees to inject insulin.
  • Modify your environment. For example, using text-to-speech software and better workplace lighting to accommodate a visual impairment.
  • Perform a risk assessment when you first receive your diabetes diagnosis. This ensures that your workspace is suitable and safe.
  • Allow time off for appointments, including in-person courses.

It's worth knowing that you're under no obligation to tell your employer that you have diabetes. However, doing so makes it easier for you to feel comfortable and minimises the potential hazards or issues in the workplace that could affect you.

NICE Guidelines for People With Diabetes

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is a government body that writes guidelines for various health conditions. Although their documents are designed for healthcare professionals, they're available online for anyone to access.

Understanding the NICE guidelines for people living with diabetes helps you know what to expect. It also makes it easier to identify whether you're receiving the right treatment or a good enough quality of care.

Some guidelines you may want to explore include:

Some guidelines cover the rationale for different treatment types, making it easier for you to understand why you're receiving your particular support package.


Living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can have a significant impact on your life. As such, understanding the resources available to you is important.

Most people with diabetes use the NHS for the majority of their treatment. A small number of private services are available, both through insurance and self-funded care.

Charities and community organizations act as essential lifelines for those who want to manage their symptoms and limit their risk factors. They also provide groups and educational resources while working towards a cure for the future.

At InsuJet, we want to make living with diabetes more comfortable. If your condition requires insulin management, you may benefit from our needleless injections. They're effective and comfortable, giving you the chance to manage your diabetes on your own terms.

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