DIABETES care in Southampton is so poor that patients have been forced to transfer themselves to Bournemouth, a leading expert has claimed.

Professor Roy Taylor has slammed diabetic care in the city as “disgraceful” after being told by colleagues in Bournemouth that they were getting a number of referrals from Southampton patients, who felt there was a “major problem” with the standard of care they had received.

Giving evidence to MPs Prof Taylor, one of the UK’s leading experts who has carried out groundbreaking studies into diabetes, said there had been a “complete disintegration” of specialist care available in the city.

It comes after a report labelled Southampton one of the worst places in the country for providing essential checks for diabetics.

City health trust bosses defended the move from hospital to “communitybased” treatments and said funding had not been cut.

Prof Taylor was addressing the influential Public Accounts Committee, which is investigating the level of care available to diabetics across the country.

He told them there has been a “steady reduction” in recent years in the number of diabetes specialists, saying local networks to organise support for diabetics had “fallen apart in some cases”. Asked why this was, he said: “Sometimes the commissioners have withdrawn funding. I would point out the example of Southampton, where you have a complete disintegration of specialist care to a really disgraceful degree, so the integrated service that used to be there, organised by the consultant diabetologist, has been split asunder.”

This has “all sorts of bad effects for the small number of people with diabetes” and “it results in people from that area having to beat a path to other doors”, he said.

Yesterday the National Diabetes Audit revealed that less than half of diabetics in the city were getting all of the nine recommended checks – the lowest rate among primary care trusts.

Responding to Prof Taylor, who is based at Newcastle University, Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said its services were in line with “local and national best practice”.

It said general diabetic care transferred out of the hospital last year into community-based clinics.

But specialist and complex care is still dealt with in hospitals.

It added: “The CCG has recognised that there are steps which need to be taken to further develop and improve services to get the very best out of the new model of care and a joint clinical review of the service has prioritised a number of actions which are in the process of being implemented.”