Diabetes will take up nearly a sixth of the NHS’s total healthcare budget for the UK within 25 years, and threatens to bankrupt the NHS, experts have warned. In their Impact Diabetes report, published today in Diabetic Medicine, they predict that by 2035 the annual NHS spend on diabetes will soar from the current £9.8bn to £16.9bn.
They calculate that the cost to the NHS of treating diabetes complications accounts for 79% of this – and will almost double over the same period, from £7.7bn to £13.5bn. The researchers, from the York Health Economic Consortium, claim that this is largely avoidable. They have called for better education for people with diabetes, and more frequent health checks, to prevent complications from developing in the first place.
Indirect costs of diabetes, such as lost working days and the need for informal care, are now estimated at £13.9bn a year, and expected to rise to about £22.9bn by 2035. In each case, type 2 diabetes accounts for the most, by far, of the cost.
The charity Diabetes UK, which developed the report in partnership with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Sanofi Diabetes, predicts that the number of people in the UK living with diabetes will rise from about 3.8 million now, to 6.25 million by 2035; it estimates that there are 850,000 people in the UK who already have diabetes but haven’t yet been diagnosed, which the report’s authors calculate can cost an additional £1.5bn.
Barbara Young, Diabetes UK’s chief executive, warned: “Without urgent action, the already huge sums of money being spent on treating diabetes will rise to unsustainable levels that threaten to bankrupt the NHS. But the most shocking part of this report is the finding that almost four-fifths of NHS diabetes spending goes on treating complications that in many cases could have been prevented.
“The failure to do more to prevent these complications is both a tragedy for the people involved and a damning indictment of the failure to implement the clear and recommended solutions. Unless the Government and the NHS start to show real leadership on this issue, this unfolding public health disaster will only get worse.”