Alarming figures show that one in six people in a hospital bed has Diabetes, and this is now costing the NHS more than £1million per hour.
Experts say ‘millions of Britons are not getting the help they need to manage the illness which is consuming a tenth of the NHS budget and can lead to potentially fatal complications such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA); where there is a persistently high level of glucose and a severe lack of insulin (although DKA is most common in people with Type 1 diabetes, anyone who depends on insulin could develop it). Other serious complications include blindness, amputations and strokes which are blamed for 20,000 premature deaths a year.
Public health chiefs say ‘the failure to tackle the Diabetes epidemic has left the NHS almost facing bankruptcy’.
NHS spending on diabetes in 2010 was £10billion, which is a cost of more than £1million an hour. The new figures released this week by Diabetes UK has provoked a call for action from politicians with only days before the election.
Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young said:
“None of the political parties have made enough of a commitment to improving the often poor quality of diabetes healthcare, which is really disappointing given one in 17 people in the UK has it.
One in every six hospital beds is occupied by someone with diabetes and the fact the NHS spends 10 per cent of its budget on diabetes means it is an issue that affects everyone.
We need urgent action – this should be a top priority for whoever forms the next Government as if left unchecked diabetes poses a real threat to the future sustainability of our health service.”
By 2035, the number of Diabetes patients is expected to reach 6.25 million and the direct cost to the NHS and indirect cost to the economy due to lost productivity to hit £40billion a year.
Ninety per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2, which occurs when liver, muscle and fat cells stop responding efficiently to insulin; usually triggered by an unhealthy lifestyle, including sugary and high fat diets which cause blood sugar levels to rise.
Experts say that a low fat diet, low in salt and sugar and rich in fruit and vegetables along with regular exercise, can help halt the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
The current government launched a Diabetes Prevention Programme in March to “significantly reduce” the number of people with Type 2 diabetes. The programme, which was a joint initiative between NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK, aims to significantly reduce the four million people in England expected to have Type 2 diabetes by 2025. It aims to identify those at risk early, and refer them into evidence-based lifestyle management programme. Initially targetting up to 10,000 people at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, with national roll-out thereafter.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “It’s time for the NHS to start practicing what we preach. The NHS already spends an estimated £10billion a year on potentially avoidable illnesses and the human toll is… around 20,000 early deaths every year. Yet for over a decade we’ve known obesity prevention cuts diabetes and saves lives. This programmme succeeds by supporting people to lose weight, exercise and eat better.”
The National Diabetes Prevention Programme is a commitment of the NHS Five Year Forward View, which was published in October 2014. It’s still too early to assess how effective the programme has been so far, but we are keen to see if it will continue.
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