The rapidly increasing rates of diabetes – both type 1 and type 2 – threatens to bankrupt the NHS, according to charity Diabetes UK.
The last 10 years have seen a 60 per cent increase in diabetes cases, with the majority of cases being type 2.
Diabetes is often a particularly expensive condition to treat because of the risk of complications. These are largely caused by a lack of education; many people with diabetes do not have the tools they need to manage their diabetes effectively enough to avoid complications, which can affect the eyes (retinopathy), nerves (neuropathy), heart and brain.
Many cases of type 2 are preventable, which suggests more must be done to educate people as to the risks they face.
Several recent reports have also identified that diabetes treatment is often impaired by a lack of effective communication between departments in hospitals. Currently, the NHS is poorly equipped to deal with complex conditions like diabetes, which can require attention from a number of different specialists.
“Over the past decade, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has increased by over one 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 to not currently get these, putting them at risk of developing complications, such as amputations, heart attack or stroke.”
It is not only type 2 diabetes that is becoming more prevalent. Rates of type 1 diagnosis are also on the increase. However, researchers are yet to figure out why, because the exact cause of the autoimmune response that leads to type 1 diabetes is unknown.
The charity warned that the healthcare system in the UK must adapt to the nature of diseases like type 1 diabetes, which, according to NICE, are becoming increasingly common. Young said:
“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.”

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