The cost of treating diabetes will rise to more than a sixth of the entire NHS budget within the next two decades, a report from York researchers has found.
The metabolic disease and its complications carries a cost of £23.7 billion in the UK, and is predicted to rise to £39.8 billion by 2035/6. Furthermore, it is estimated that there are 850,000 people in the UK who have diabetes but have not been diagnosed and, according to the study authors, the cost of undiagnosed diabetes can be estimated at an additional £1.5 billion.
Researchers at the York Health Economic Consortium, in partnership with charities Diabetes UK, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Sanofi Diabetes, also highlighted that the large percentage (79%) of NHS diabetes spending that goes on complications – many of which are preventable. Investing in the checks and services that help people manage the condition and thereby reduce the risk of complications could actually be less expensive than the current approach.
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.”