200,000 people a year suffer diabetes complications

Every year, almost 200,000 people with diabetes are suffer devastating complications such as amputation, heart attack and stroke, according to new analysis by Diabetes UK published on 25 August 2015.

The analysis, based on National Diabetes Audit data[i], shows that in 2012/13, 199, 537 people, equivalent to Wembley Stadium being filled to maximum capacity twice, in England and Wales were living with a debilitating diabetes-related complication. The actual figure is likely to be much higher as the audit doesn’t include all people with diabetes. 

With the number of people living with diabetes projected to rise to 5 million by 2025, Diabetes UK has warned that the figure illustrates the frightening scale of the condition and highlight the urgent need for the NHS to make improving care for people with the condition a priority.

This is because diabetes complications are not only personally devastating for those involved but are also extremely costly to the health service. Diabetes accounts for 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget, and the NHS spends £8 billion on treating the complications of diabetes, many of which could be prevented if the right care was provided in the first place.

Despite this, there is a postcode lottery of diabetes care and huge variation in the proportion of people who have their diabetes under control. Figures show[ii] that in England and Wales barely a third (36 per cent) of people with diabetes are meeting the recommended levels for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol, while even in the best performing area just 48 per cent meet these targets.

Diabetes UK is calling for the Government and the NHS to do more to ensure everyone with diabetes gets the care and support they need to be able to take control of the condition, and reduce their risk of complications.

Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “It is an absolute tragedy that almost 200,000 people a year are suffering debilitating and life threatening diabetes complications such as heart attacks, amputations, and stroke that could be prevented with better care and support. These complications have a devastating impact on people’s lives and are fuelling the high death rate in people with the condition, as well as meaning huge and often unnecessary costs to the NHS.

“With the numbers of people with diabetes rising at an alarming rate, it is vital that the Government and the NHS act urgently to end the postcode lottery of diabetes care and ensure that all people living with diabetes get the support and care they need to live long healthy lives. In particular, the NHS must get better at giving people with diabetes the education they need to take control of their condition, and ensuring that everyone with the condition is getting their essential health checks, as they can help to identify problems before they develop into serious complications.

“Unless this happens, thousands more people a year will be condemned to entirely avoidable debilitating complications and early death, and the future sustainability of the health service will be at great risk.”