Healthy living

Diabetes spending threatens to bankrupt the NHS

Diabetes spending threatens to  bankrupt the NHS A 'public health disaster'

NHS spending on diabetes will increase to £16.9 billion by 2035, representing more than a sixth of its entire budget, a new report has warned.

Currently, the NHS spends £9.8 billion a year on directly treating the 3.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK. But by 2035, a report by the York Health Economic Consortium estimates there will be 6.25 million people with diabetes, costing the NHS around £16.9 billion.

However, nearly 80 per cent of NHS diabetes spending goes on treating complications of the disease, such as kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations, many of which are preventable, the report stated.

The Impact Diabetes report, published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, also looked at the indirect costs of diabetes, such as those related to increased death and illness, the loss of income from stopping work and the need for informal care.

According to the report, the total cost associated with diabetes in the UK now stands at £23.7 billion, but predicted that this figure will rise to £39.8 billion by 2035.

Investing in services to help people manage the condition and reduce the risk of complications would help reduce costs, said the authors.

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."

This article was published on Wed 25 April 2012

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