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3.8 million people in England have diabetes

New figures reveal huge burden of ill health

Jo Carlowe

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Around 9% of the adult population in England has diabetes, according to new figures published today. 

The data from Public Health England (PHE) reveals 3.8 million people in England aged over 16 had diabetes in 2015, around 9% of the adult population. Approximately 90% of cases were type 2, which is largely preventable. It is suggested that one in four people with diabetes, some 940,000, are unaware of their condition.

John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer at PHE, said: “The number of people with diabetes has been steadily increasing and tackling it is fundamental to the sustainable future of the NHS. Diabetes can be an extremely serious disease for those that have it and treating it and its complications costs the NHS almost £10 billion a year. Developing type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable part of ageing, we have an opportunity through public health to reverse this trend and safeguard the health of the nation and the future of the NHS.”

The figures reiterate that diabetes is an increasing burden of ill health, underlining the need for urgent action to lessen the impact on individuals, as well as the health and social care system supporting them, PHE states.

Based on current population trends, by 2035, 4.9 million people will have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes currently costs the NHS £8.8 billion each year.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “These new estimates clearly show the scale of diabetes and the huge impact on people living with the condition. Too often they only find out they have the disease after they have developed serious complications, such as heart or kidney disease, or foot problems which can lead to amputations. Avoiding or delaying such devastating complications depends on people getting diagnosed earlier, so they get help and support to manage their condition well. We urge people over 40 to attend their NHS Health Check when invited. We also want people to take the necessary steps to find out their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as using Diabetes UK’s online Know Your Risk tool.”

Responding to the statistics from PHE, The Royal College of Nursing has called for more resources to be put into prevention and nurse training. 

Helen Donovan, Professional Lead for Public Health Nursing for the RCN said: “Increasing rates of diabetes are a matter of real concern, and require a concerted effort to bring them down. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to very serious complications and even death, so expert treatment by fully trained doctors and nurses is vital in keeping people with these conditions as healthy as possible.

“Above all, money and effort put into prevention will help immeasurably now and in the future. Nursing staff need the training and the time to identify those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, to make meaningful interventions with them, and to help them reduce their risk. There is also much more that could be done to counter the risks in the general population, such as by tackling hidden sugars and promoting healthy, active lifestyles.

“Without the focus and resources to arrest the rise in preventable cases, more people will suffer and the NHS could be overwhelmed by the cost of treatment. Half measures will not be enough, it is high time this was tackled head on.”

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