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Diabetes: Rising NHS Cost Of Treating Illness May 'Bankrupt' Health Service

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The cost of treating diabetes is expected to rocket
The cost of treating diabetes is expected to rocket

Diabetes will cost the NHS more than a sixth of its entire budget by 2035, a report has found.

The disease and its complications account for 10% (£9.8 billion) of NHS spending, but this is projected to rise to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years, or 17% of the health service's funds.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "This report shows that without urgent action, the already huge sums of money being spent on treating diabetes will rise to unsustainable levels that threaten to bankrupt the NHS.

"But the most shocking part of this report is the finding that almost four-fifths of NHS diabetes spending goes on treating complications that in many cases could have been prevented.

"The failure to do more to prevent these complications is both a tragedy for the people involved and a damning indictment of the failure to implement the clear and recommended solutions. Unless the government and the NHS start to show real leadership on this issue, this unfolding public health disaster will only get worse."

Researchers at the York Health Economic Consortium, in partnership with charities Diabetes UK, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Sanofi Diabetes, also found that up to four-fifths of the cost of treating complications such as kidney failure, nerve damage, and amputation could be avoided by investing in better preventative measures and management of the condition once it is acquired.

The Impact Diabetes report, which appeared in the Diabetic Medicine journal, also considered the indirect costs to individuals living with the condition, including those related to increased death and illness, the loss of income from stopping work, and the need for informal care.

It found the total associated with these extra burdens in addition to direct patient care in the UK stands at £23.7 billion and is predicted to rise to £39.8 billion by 2035/36, emphasising the human and financial incentives to better manage the disease.

There are around 3.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK and this is expected to increase to 6.25 million in just over two decades.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We agree that diabetes is a very serious illness and one that has a big impact on the NHS.

"That's why we are tackling the disease on three fronts.

"First, through prevention of Type 2 diabetes - encouraging people to eat well and be more active. Second, by helping people to manage their diabetes through the nine annual health care checks performed in primary care. And by better management of the condition in hospital."

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