Quality Standards
Issued: March 2011

Diabetes in adults quality standard

Introduction and overview

This quality standard covers clinical management of diabetes in adults excluding children, young people and pregnant women.


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic complex metabolic disorder characterised by high levels of blood glucose and caused by defects in insulin secretion and/or action. As of 2009, nearly 2 million people in the UK were registered as having diabetes, and it is estimated that by 2025 more than 4 million people will have diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. Good care and education can reduce the risk of these problems.

Since high blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol can worsen many of these problems, managing diabetes draws on many areas of healthcare, and care is typically complex and time-consuming. The importance of a healthy lifestyle avoiding the problems caused by diabetes, and, for some, monitoring blood glucose and altering doses of insulin, makes education for people with diabetes a central part of management. This quality standard describes high-quality, cost-effective care that, when delivered collectively, should improve the effectiveness, safety and experience of care for adults with diabetes in the following ways:

  • Preventing people from dying prematurely.

  • Enhancing quality of life for people with long term conditions.

  • Helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury.

  • Ensuring that people have a positive experience of care.

  • Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

NHS Outcomes Framework 2011/12 is available from www.gov.uk.

Specifically, it is expected that achieving the high-quality care set out in this quality standard will reduce the complications associated with diabetes.


The quality standard for diabetes in adults requires that services should be commissioned from and coordinated across all relevant agencies encompassing the whole diabetes care pathway. An integrated approach to provision of services is fundamental to the delivery of high-quality care to people with diabetes. The diabetes in adults quality standard supports the National Service Framework for Diabetes and locally agreed pathways of care.