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500 people die each week from avoidable complications of diabetes

Diabetes UK is calling on NHS England to continue efforts to improve diabetes services through the Diabetes Transformation Fund beyond 2019

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 29 October 2018

Around 500 people living with diabetes die prematurely every week in England and Wales as a result of avoidable complications of the condition, a Diabetes UK analysis of data from the latest NHS National Diabetes Audit shows.

Amputations, sight loss, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease are the most common complications of diabetes which can lead to premature death, amputations and are preventable if people are supported to manage their diabetes effectively.

The analysis shows that people between the ages of 35 and 64 living with type 1 diabetes are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than those without the condition and people within the same age range with type 2 diabetes are up to two times more likely to die prematurely.

The most common complications of diabetes which can lead to early death are strokes and cardiovascular disease. Every week in the UK, 680 people suffer a stroke as a complication of diabetes (one in five strokes is caused by diabetes), 530 people suffer a diabetes-related heart attack, and there are around 2,000 cases of diabetes-related heart failure.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “500 preventable, premature deaths each week is a harrowing statistic that highlights how serious diabetes can be. It’s vital that this seriousness is recognised, and that the NHS continues to fund improvements to diabetes care beyond 2019, as it has been doing through the Diabetes Transformation Fund.”

Since 2017, the Diabetes Transformation Fund has invested more than £80 million in regions across England to improve the care people with diabetes receive, and help them manage their condition and Diabetes UK is calling on NHS England to continue its concerted action to improve the quality of local diabetes services beyond 2019.

The Diabetes Transformation Fund has been used to improve structured education for people with diabetes to help them manage their condition more effectively and improve achievement of treatment targets to reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke. It has also invested in improving access to multi-disciplinary foot care teams and reducing lengths of hospital stays by improving access to specialist diabetes inpatient teams.

Askew added: “The importance of helping people with diabetes avoid preventable complications, which can often lead to death, cannot be overstated. If we want to reduce the number of people with diabetes dying early and unnecessarily the investment and work started in 2017 needs to be continued. Progress is being made and shouldn’t stop now, to ensure the benefits of transformation are fully realised.”

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