The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK rose to 3.2 million at the end of 2013 following a significant increase in new cases of the disease.
New figures published today by Diabetes UK show that more than 163,000 people across the UK were given a diabetes diagnosis last year, the biggest increase in a single year since 2008.
The rise meant some 3,208,014 adults had diabetes at the start of 2014, equal to 6% of the entire adult population.
According to the Diabetes UK, the increase in diabetes prevalence could be partly due to a change in methodology, with the overall figure now including cases of rarer forms of diabetes as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Improvements in awareness of symptoms and diagnosis may also explain some of the new cases.
The charity is urging local NHS organisations to commit to four important areas of diabetes healthcare:
Offering the NHS Health Check to all people aged between 40 and 74. The health check helps to identify people at a high risk of common health conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Making sure everyone with diabetes is offered the chance to attend a diabetes education course. Currently, the number of people newly diagnosed with diabetes being offered a place on an education course is just one in every ten.
Ensuring a greater number of patients with diabetes receive all nine of the annual diabetes health checks that they’re entitled to on the NHS.
Improving health care in hospitals for people with diabetes. The charity notes that there is an urgent need for hospital care to improve so that medication errors in hospital become much less common and more patients with diabetes are seen by diabetes specialists.
In response to the new figures, CEO of Diabetes UK, Barabara Young stated that as more people are diagnosed with diabetes, the number of people at risk of diabetic complications also rises. As well as being a serious health risk for individuals, diabetic complications are also very expensive to treat, representing, by far, the largest proportion of the NHS’s budget for treating diabetes.
It is therefore very important that people with diabetes are diagnosed early, that there is strong support for people with diabetes to prevent the development of complications and to spot any signs of complications at the earliest stage when complications are easier to treat.