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Helping people with diabetes avoid emergency care could save NHS GBP3 billion per year

Lack of proper diabetes management costs the NHS £3 billion per year, a cost that is totally avoidable, experts have said.

An analysis on planned care and A&E data has found that over a third of people with diabetes are unable to maintain good control of their blood glucose levels in order to prevent costly health complications.

In total, approximately £5.5 billion was spent on hospital diabetes care, and an estimated £3 billion of this was deemed “avoidable” by the researchers. This figure accounts for nearly 10% of the NHS hospital budget.

On average, the NHS spends around twice as much on care for people with type 2 diabetes as it does on people without diabetes, with emergency care for type 2 patients costing three times as much as that of non-diabetic patients. Meanwhile, spending is six times as high on people with type 1 diabetes, on average.

Dr Adrian Heald, of Salford Royal Hospital and one of the study authors, said: “People with diabetes are admitted to hospital more often, especially as emergencies, and stay on average longer as inpatients.

“These increased hospital costs, 40 per cent of which come from non-elective and emergency care, are three times higher than the current costs of diabetes medication.

“Improved management of diabetes by GPs and diabetes specialist care teams could improve the health of people with diabetes and substantially reduce the level of hospital care and costs.”

Emma Elvi, senior clinical adviser at Diabetes UK, suggested that more information is needed about the specific reasons why patients are admitted to hospital before conclusions can be drawn.

She commented: “What we do know, is that more than a million people with diabetes were admitted to hospital in England in 2017 – meaning around 18 per cent of hospital beds were occupied by someone with diabetes – but it is incredibly important to stress that only 8 per cent were admitted because of their condition.”

It is hoped that measures, such as expansion of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programmen, will improve the situation and bring down NHS spending on diabetes management in the future.

The study’s findings were presented at the 55th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), which is being held in Barcelona from 16-20 Sept.

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