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Health service treats 200,000 diabetes complications a year


Diabetes patients experience 200,000 potentially devastating complications, such as amputation and cardiovascular events, each year, according to new analysis.

The analysis, based on data from the National Diabetes Audit, showed that in 2012-13 there were 199,537 cases of diabetes-related complications in England and Wales.

“The NHS must get better at giving people with diabetes the education they need to take control of their condition, and ensuring that everyone with the condition is getting their essential health checks”

Barbara Young

The charity Diabetes UK warned that the figure illustrates the frightening scale of the condition and highlights the urgent need for the NHS to make improving diabetes care a priority.

It noted that diabetes accounts for 10% of the entire NHS budget, and the NHS spends £8bn on treating the complications of diabetes, many of which could be prevented with good management.

Diabetes UK said that new figures showed that only 36% of people with diabetes in England and Wales were meeting the recommended levels for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol, while even in the best performing area just 48% met the targets.

The warning about complications is the latest in a series issued by the charity over the summer about the cost linked to poor diabetes management.

Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young described the level of complications as an “absolute tragedy” that put the future sustainability of the health service “at great risk”.

“With the numbers of people with diabetes rising at an alarming rate, it is vital that the government and the NHS act urgently to end the postcode lottery of diabetes care and ensure that all people living with diabetes get the support and care they need to live long healthy lives,” she said.

“In particular, the NHS must get better at giving people with diabetes the education they need to take control of their condition, and ensuring that everyone with the condition is getting their essential health checks,” she added.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Could you clarify if your talking about Type 1 or Type 2??
    Type 1 seems to always be labelled the same even though the condition and reasons for having the disease is so different!

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  • I am a diabetic myself (type 2) and also a general practice nurse with 32 years of experience. We put enormous effort and time into our diabetic patients care. Education from the outset is essential, but the patients themselves have to be receptive and actually listen to the advice and act upon it. Too many people think there is some sort of 'magic pill' to make it all go away, or choose to not attend for review. It's not all the health service's fault.

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  • Totally agree with Anon 8.04pm I am also a practice nurse, we spend hours over the months and years trying to encourage lifestyle change and self management with our Type 2 pts but unless the pt is receptive to the advice we are basically wasting our efforts. The condition is treated seriously but too many pts think it is a 'mild' condition, take the tablets prescribed and carry on as usual with no attempt to make the changes necessary to reduce the risk of long term complications. Referrals to support services such as weight management and smoking cessation are frequently rejected by the pt. What more are we expected to do?

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  • I totally agree with both.My dad was a diabetic and through him i understand that to ensure diabetic patients manage their condition well they need to be receptive to the information and advise available. My dad was not receptive to change. Type 2 diabetics is more prevelent in older people who are have lived their lives in a particular way and refuse to change. we can not teach a old dog new tricks ,but the NHS will have keep repeating the same information and hopefully it will get through eventually.

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