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One fifth of older people living with diabetes as UK figures top four million

Article By: Ellie Spanswick, News Editor

More than four million people are now living with diabetes in the UK, according the latest information published by Diabetes UK.

The figures are based on GP patient data from the latest Quality and Outcomes Framework report and reveal the 3.5m adults diagnosed with the condition, an increase of 65 per cent in the last decade and 119,965 more than in 2013/14. While one fifth of people aged 60-70 are now living with diabetes, with experts warning that unhealthy lifestyles could see the number of people living with the condition rise to five million in the next decade.

Diabetes UK have warned that as the number of cases grows, as does the need for the NHS to commit to providing adequate diabetes care and education across the UK.

’Diabetes education needs to be readily available’

Chief executive of Diabetes UK, Chris Askew, commented: “With four million people in the UK now living with diabetes, the need to tackle this serious health condition has never been so stark or so urgent. Tragically, we are continuing to see too many people with diabetes suffering serious complications, and even dying before their time, and we know that key reasons for this are that they are being denied both the care and access to education that would help them to manage their condition well.

"It is vital that we start to see people with diabetes receive good quality care wherever they live rather than them being at the mercy of a postcode lottery. Equally, diabetes education needs to be readily available everywhere, and commissioned along with a proper local system that explains to people with diabetes the benefits they will gain from attending an education course, and ensures that courses are well run.

More than 24,000 people die every year with diabetes, often caused by insufficient care and education.

Just sixty per cent of people with diabetes are getting the eight NICE recommended checks, which are recognised as being key to identifying any problems early enough to prevent complications.

While diabetes education courses are not being commissioned for people living in one third of areas in England.

Diabetes UK has raised concerns over poor hospital care for people living with diabetes and could be putting lives at risk, despite evidence to suggest that improving care could avoid health complications and reduce some of the 80 per cent spend of the £10 billion NHS’ spend on diabetes care.

Health and food experts, such as celebrity chef and health campaigner Jamie Oliver, have increased calls for better food labelling, a reduction in the cost of healthy food and a sugar tax on fizzy drinks to help reduce the number of cases of obesity and the obesity related diseases and health conditions.

NHS crippled by record number living with diabetes

Mr Askew added: “We also need a concerted effort led by the Government to take active steps to address the fact that almost two in every three people in the UK are overweight or obese and are therefore at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Basic measures such as making healthy food cheaper and more accessible, introducing clearer food labelling and making it easier for people to build physical activity into their daily lives would have a profound influence.

“With a record number of people living with diabetes, there is no time to waste in getting serious about providing better care and diabetes education. Until this happens, the rising number of people with diabetes will continue to be denied the best chance of living long and healthy lives and the NHS will continue to be crippled under avoidable but escalating costs of treating poorly managed diabetes."

The National Audit Office recently criticised the poor standard of care people living with diabetes often receive, potentially resulting in preventable complications, such as: blindness, kidney failure the amputation of limbs.

The charity have also called a focus on preventing the number of cases of Type 2 diabetes. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is a joint commitment from NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK to deliver evidence based behavioural interventions to those identified as being at high-risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

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