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Diabetics suffer 200,000 complications per year

Diabetes care takes 10% of the entire NHS budget and will rise, warn experts

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

People with diabetes experience almost 200,000 serious complications per year such as amputation, heart attack or stroke, according to new analysis by Diabetes UK, released today.

The charity has warned the cost to peoples’ health and the financial cost to the NHS will rise sharply in the next 10 years so more effort is needed to provide better care and support.

Its analysis, based on National Diabetes Audit data, shows that in 2012-13 there were 199,537 cases of debilitating diabetes-related complications in England and Wales.

Given that the number of people living with diabetes is projected to rise to 5 million by 2025, Diabetes UK warned that the figures showed the “frightening” scale of the condition and highlighted the need for the NHS to make improving care for people with the condition a priority.

Diabetes complications were personally devastating for those involved, said the charity, but were also extremely costly to the health service.

Diabetes accounted for 10% of the entire NHS budget and the NHS spent around £8 billion on treating the complications of diabetes, many of which could be prevented if the right care was provided in the first place.

Despite this, said the charity, a postcode lottery of diabetes care existed as well as huge variation in the proportion of people who had their diabetes under control.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that in England and Wales barely a third (36%) of people with diabetes were meeting the recommended levels for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol.

Diabetes UK said the government and the NHS had to do more to ensure everyone with diabetes got the care and support they needed to be able to take control of the condition and reduce their risk of complications.

Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive, said: “It is an absolute tragedy that there are almost 200,000 cases a year of debilitating and life threatening diabetes complications such as heart attacks, amputations, and stroke that could be prevented with better care and support.

“These complications have a devastating impact on people’s lives and are fuelling the high death rate in people with the condition, as well as meaning huge and often unnecessary costs to the NHS.

“With the numbers of people with diabetes rising at an alarming rate, it is vital that the government and the NHS act urgently to end the postcode lottery of diabetes care and ensure that all people living with diabetes get the support and care they need to live long healthy lives.

“In particular, the NHS must get better at giving people with diabetes the education they need to take control of their condition, and ensuring that everyone with the condition is getting their essential health checks, as they can help to identify problems before they develop into serious complications.”

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