The delays help give the area among the highest rate of foot amputations in the country, a new review has found.
Other failings uncovered by the inquiry also show how the estimated 30,000 people with the condition locally are being short-changed by health services.
Some GPs even refuse to accept that type two diabetes, often caused by obesity and poor lifestyle, is a disease at all - and instead class it as a "risk factor" such as smoking.
The research is the first major work carried out by the North Staffordshire Patient Congress set up to represent people using services.
It formed a so-called citizens' jury to examine diabetes care by taking evidence from 10 health professionals and 11 patients or carers as well as running a survey.
Now its members will meet hold court again next month to check if the problems are being tackled.
Their investigation found some diabetics had been robbed of vital checks on their feet because they had been removed during a cull of 11,000 people from chiropody waiting lists four years ago.
And North Staffordshire had among the lowest number nationally of insulin pumps to give the drug without the need for injections.
A report from the nine-strong jury highlighted:
*a shortage of GPs and high turnover of practice nurses to manage the disease;
*lack of hospital specialists diabetes nurses;
*wide variations between surgeries;
*poor communication between services in primary care and hospitals;
*disjointed co-ordination within the Royal Stoke University Hospital leaving patients giving their details several times to different staff;
*medical records not available for consultations;
*the absence of a ward even though a fifth of beds are taken of by diabetics - patients end up on unsuitable wards;
*poor psychological support;
*care deteriorating when teenagers pass from children's to adult services.
Jury chairman Professor Naomi Chambers said: "We found much excellent care but some issues and problems.
"We have made 15 recommendations and need some of them embedded and acted on."
The report concluded: "People reported that diagnosis had been difficult and healthcare professionals, themselves, identified delays of up to six years.
"The main theme at and after diagnosis was lack of information and poor communication with many patients feeling unsupported when managing their conditions."
Among recommendations were that people's awareness of the disease should increase, diabetes checks be part of medical tests on new GP patients and all diabetics receive an annual foot assessment.
Retired oatcake baker Malcolm Barber, aged 68, from Hanley, has been a diabetic for 20 years.
He said: "I am not blaming GPs themselves, but most of the problems seem to be in primary care.
"If people ignore their symptoms, GPs seem to be happy to let them get on with it and soon we will be at crisis point."