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Diabetes increase

Diabetes increases in the UK by 60% in a decade

The charity predicts that if current trends continue, five million people will have diabetes by 2025
Roughly 90% of cases are type 2 diabetes, which is the form closely linked to diet and obesity
The condition leads to 135 foot amputations every week in the UK

The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has soared by 59.8 per cent in a decade, according to an analysis by Diabetes UK. The new figures, extracted from official NHS data, show that there are now 3,333,069 people diagnosed with diabetes, which is an increase of more than 1.2 million adults compared with ten years ago when, in 2005, there were 2,086,041 people diagnosed with the condition. This does not take into account the 590,000 adults estimated to have undiagnosed diabetes in 2013-2014. Approximately 90% of cases are type 2 diabetes.

"Over the past decade, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has increased by over 1 million people, which is the equivalent of the population of a small country such as Cyprus,” said Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK. “With a record number of people now living with diabetes in the UK, there is no time to waste – the government must act now. We need to see more people with diabetes receiving the eight care processes recommended by NICE. It is unacceptable that a third of people living with the condition do not currently get these, putting them at increased risk of developing complications, such as amputations, heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes UK is warning that this exponential growth in numbers reflects an urgent need for effective care for people living with diabetes, as well as highlighting the importance of prevention and that failure to act on this threatens to bring down the NHS.

At present only six in ten people with diabetes in England and Wales receive the eight care processes recommended by the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE). These are the checks identified as essential in high quality care for people with diabetes and include getting blood pressure and blood glucose levels measured, as well as the kidney function monitored, otherwise poorly managed diabetes can lead to devastating and expensive health complications such as kidney disease, stroke and amputation.

This is why it’s critical that the government takes urgent action to ensure that everyone with diabetes receives the eight care processes, reducing their risk of further health complications and the costs these incur for the already strained NHS budget.

“Diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10 billion a year, and 80 per cent of this is spent on managing avoidable complications. So there is huge potential to save money and reduce pressure on NHS hospitals and services through providing better care to prevent people with diabetes from developing devastating and costly complications,” added Young. “The NHS must prioritise providing better care, along with improved and more flexible education options, for people with diabetes now, and give them the best possible chance of living long and healthy lives. Until then, avoidable human suffering will continue and the costs of treating diabetes will continue to spiral out of control and threaten to bankrupt the NHS. Now is the time for action.”

Recently published data shows that diabetes medication now accounts for 10% of the NHS drugs bill. Nearly £869m was spent on drugs, including insulin and metformin, marking a sharp rise from the £514m being spent a decade ago, when the drugs accounted for just 6.6% of the prescriptions budget.

Prescriptions for diabetes now take up 10 per cent of GP practices’ annual prescribing budget in England. A total of 47.2 million items were prescribed in the last financial year, at a cost of £860m. This is an 8.2 per cent per cent rise in a year, the largest increase in spending on diabetes drugs since 2010/11. 

"These figures are a stark warning and reveal the increasing cost of diabetes,” said Dr Martin McShane, NHS England's Director for Long Term Conditions. "We've said it before and we'll say it again, it's time to get serious about lifestyle change."

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