In a report issued in late April, it is noted that the increasing incidence of diabetes will cost the NHS more than a sixth of its entire budget by 2035. The Impact Diabetes report, published by York Health Economic Consortium, in partnership with charities Diabetes UK, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Sanofi Diabetes in the Diabetic Medicine journal found that the disease and its complications currently accounts for 10 per cent (£9.8 billion) of NHS spending. This is projected to rise to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years, or 17 per cent of NHS funds. To put this in context, there are approximately 3.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK and projections indicate that this could increase to 6.25 million in just over twenty years.
Researchers also found that up to four-fifths of the cost of treating diabetes related issues (such as kidney failure, nerve damage, and amputation – approximately 100 per week at present) could be avoided through investment in improved preventative measures and the management of the condition once it has been diagnosed.
The report, which was published in the Diabetic Medicine journal, also looked at the indirect costs of living with the condition, such as those related to increased periods of illness, the loss of earnings through an inability to work and the need for care. The report found that the total of these indirect costs, 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. The report highlights this in order to emphasis both the human and financial incentive to seek to better manage the disease.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, was quoted as saying “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.”
In response to the publication of the report, the Department of Health 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.”