The Department of Health is delaying implementation of the diabetes national service framework for a year, citing the structural upheaval facing primary care trusts and health authorities as the reason.

The framework was expected within weeks, with implementation from April. Instead, 'top line standards' are due out shortly, with a separate 'delivery strategy' scheduled for the summer of 2002.

Diabetes UK has called the decision 'unacceptable', saying that the needs of patients, not NHS structures, need to be put first.

Chief executive Paul Streets, a member of the framework's external reference group, is meeting health minister Jacqui Smith next week and described the delay as 'a major blow'. 'The DoH should take note that our expectations are now higher than ever of what the framework will deliver when it is finally published, ' he said.