NHS figures have revealed that the number of people with diabetes in the UK has risen by 60% in the past ten years. There are now more than 3.3 million sufferers, and Diabetes UK warns that the disease is threatening to bankrupt the NHS.
While there is no obvious reason for the rise in type 1 diabetes, obesity is blamed for the growing prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Increasing evidence has shown that unhealthy lifestyles are causing too many avoidable cases of the disease.
However, excess calories aren’t the only reason diabetes is costing the NHS so much money. Diabetes UK also says that many of those who have been diagnosed with the condition are not receiving the standard of care they should be. According to the charity, more than a third of sufferers do not receive the eight care processes recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for preventing serious and costly complications, such as amputations and strokes. These checks include getting blood pressure and blood glucose measured, as well as kidney function monitored.
The worrying figures highlight an urgent need for more effective care for patients, as well as showing that more must be done to stress the importance of prevention.
“With a record number of people now living with diabetes in the UK, there is no time to waste – the government must act now,” says Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK. “Diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10bn a year and 80% of this is spent on managing avoidable complications. So there is huge potential to save money, and reduce pressure on NHS hospitals and services through providing better care to prevent people with diabetes from developing devastating and costly complications.”
The charity predicts that if the current trend continues, there will be 5 million diabetes patients in the UK by 2025.
Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Long Term Conditions, says: “These figures are a stark warning and reveal the increasing cost of diabetes. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – it’s time to get serious about lifestyle change.”