The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has soared by nearly 60% in a decade, sparking warnings about the growing burden of treating the condition on health service finances.
The new figures, extracted from NHS data, show there are now 3.3 million people diagnosed with diabetes, an increase of more than 1.2 million adults compared with 2005.
“The costs of treating diabetes will continue to spiral out of control and threaten to bankrupt the NHS. Now is the time for action”
The charity Diabetes UK said the exponential growth in numbers reflected an urgent need for effective care and prevention, and that failure to act threatened to “bring down the NHS”.
Only 60% of diabetes patients in England and Wales currently received the eight care processes recommended in guidance from the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence, according to the charity.
Vital checks are recommended by NICE on:
HbA1c, blood pressure, cholesterol, serum creatinine, urine albumin, foot surveillance, body mass index and smoking
Diabetes UK said it was “critical” that the government takes urgent action to ensure that all patients with diabetes received the eight care processes, reducing their risk of further health complications and the costs these incur for the already strained NHS budget.
Dame Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “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.
“Diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10bn a year, and 80% of this is spent on managing avoidable complications,” she said. “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.”
She added: “The NHS must prioritise providing better care, along with improved and more flexible education options, for people with diabetes now.
“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,” she said. “Now is the time for action.”