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Diabetes Professional Care
15-16 October 2024, Olympia London

The UK's leading event for the entire team involved in the prevention, treatment and management of diabetes and its related conditions.

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Almost 60% of NHS’ £10.7bn annual diabetes costs are for ‘preventable’ complications

New research reveals that the NHS spends £10.7bn a year on diabetes, about 6% of the UK health budget. Moreover, £6.2bn of this was spent on "potentially preventable complications." Colette Marshall, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, says the research paints a "stark picture" for the UK.

The research, led by York Health Economics Consortium and commissioned by Diabetes UK, highlights how in 2021, about £6.2bn was still being spent on preventable complications. Meanwhile, only about £4.4bn was spent on routine diabetes care, such as diagnosis, GP appointments, eye screening, blood tests, medication, support programmes and specialist diabetes teams.

The study suggests that investing more in better diabetes care may help to reduce the costs of diabetes-related complications. Nick Hex, associate director for the NHS and public sector at the York Health Economics Consortium, said diabetes remains "very costly to the NHS, and the majority of those costs are still spent on potentially preventable complications".

Hex stresses that spending should be focused on addressing prevention, management, and major reform in diabetes care: “Increased investment in new medicines and technologies that help people better manage their condition contribute to some of the high ongoing costs, but the rise in type 2 diabetes in under 40s is a particular concern and there needs to be continued focus on prevention strategies.”

“It is also essential that health commissioners continue to invest in diabetes prevention, care and treatment to reduce future cost implications.”

Diabetes UK has commented on the data, highlighting exactly how important it is to reform diabetes care in the UK to avoid these complications: “With the right treatment and support, it is possible to live well with diabetes. But without it, devastating diabetes complications can develop, and every week diabetes leads to 2,990 cases of heart failure, more than 930 strokes and 660 heart attacks, and 184 amputations.”

Colette Marshall, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: “These complications cause untold hardship to many thousands of people and are, in most cases, preventable with the right care.”

“Getting care right for people with diabetes can save limbs, sight and lives. But despite some progress, too many people are still missing out and too many are developing diabetes complications.”  

In light of the research and with the UK’s upcoming General Election, Diabetes UK have released a statement calling on all political parties to address serious issues in diabetes care, which in turn would reduce the costs faced by the UK:

“There is a huge opportunity to transform the lives of people with diabetes through a greater focus on early care and support, with fewer people developing complications.

We are calling on all political parties to ensure that the next UK government:

  • Takes bold action to reduce the number of people developing type 2 diabetes – including measures to tackle the promotion of unhealthy food and drink.  
  • Provides more attention and resource to ensure people with diabetes receive their vital regular health checks. Some progress has been made to ease the backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but this essential care is still not being delivered to everyone who needs it. In 2022/23, approximately 1.6 million people living with diabetes did not receive all eight of their essential health checks in England alone. 
  • Ensures people with diabetes have access to technologies and treatments to help them manage their diabetes effectively.”

Colette Marshall has echoed this call to action: “Shifting the dial from crisis to preventative care would help to reduce the harm from diabetes, allowing people with the condition to live well along while, ultimately, reducing the cost to the health service.”  

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