HALF of the 1.2 million Australians with Type 2 diabetes are suffering major complications including blindness, kidney disease and limb amputations because of poor treatment by GPs.

Diabetes is the most common reason for people to reach end stage renal disease or need a kidney transplant, it is the most common cause of blindness and limb amputations not brought on by a severe trauma. It is responsible for one in 10 deaths.

Despite this a new report has found one in three people or 550,000 with diabetes don't know they have the disease and another two million Australians are at risk of developing it.

Worse still and only one in three people diagnosed with the illness get the regular medical check-ups they need to keep the illness under control.

Only one in three people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes  get the regular medical check-ups they need.
Only one in three people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes get the regular medical check-ups they need.

The failure of doctors to properly manage the illness is affecting patient's quality of life, causing deaths and costing the community over $14 billion a year.

Sydney University Professor Stephen Colagiuri who authored the report says there is a Medicare rebate for a diabetes annual cycle of care, a checklist GPs should use to manage patients.

The checklist sets out the minimum level of care a person with diabetes should receive and includes an annual measurement of blood sugar levels, cholesterol, kidney check, weight blood pressure and an eye and foot check every two years.

However, only 51 per cent of people with diabetes had their blood sugar levels checked by their doctor each year and just 37 per cent had all the standard checks, his report found.

Of those people who were checked only half were keeping their blood glucose levels under control and less than half met targets for managing weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

"Overall the data indicate that many people with diagnosed diabetes in Australia are not receiving expected standards of diabetes care," he said.

Doctors are failing to properly manage diabetes,  leading to major complications.
Doctors are failing to properly manage diabetes, leading to major complications.

The consequences of poor diabetes management are that one in five people develop diabetic eye disease, one in four develop nerve damage, weakness and pain, one in three develop kidney disease and one in eight get heart disease.

Professor Colagiuri says a diabetes management program was set up by the former Rudd Government and showed positive results but it was not taken forward after a change of government.

The medical profession and government know what needs to be done to improve diabetes care but there are no systems to implement it, he said.

Some medical practices considered activating a chronic care plan for people with diabetes was too much paperwork or in regional areas there may be poor access to podiatrists and eye care, he said.

The study was funded by pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk which makes insulin and other diabetes medication.

Sydney nanny Belinda Nakauta suffers from Type 2 diabetes and had to have part of one of her toes amputated two years ago after she stepped on a screw that injured her left foot.

"When you've got diabetes you don't have a good immune system and you can't fight infection," she said.

The loss of her toe and her upcoming 50th birthday motivated her to get her weight under control and she lost 30 kilos and became a gym junkie.

"That changed my life. I was insulin dependent and used to use it four times a day and now I no longer use insulin," she said.

Mrs Nakauta said she used to live in Western Sydney and attend a bulk billing clinic and never saw the same doctor twice which she believed contributed to her problems.

Now she lives in Cammeray and is under the care of a single doctor and says the continuity of care has helped.

There is an urgent need for more doctors and specialists in public hospitals to cope with demand, she says.