Escalating costs of diabetes set to "bankrupt" the NHS, study says

The NHS’s annual spending on diabetes will increase from £9.8bn to £16.9bn over the next 25 years, a rise that means the NHS would be spending 17% of its entire budget on the condition.

The Impact Diabetes report in Diabetic Medicine also suggests that the cost of treating diabetes complications is expected to almost double from the current total of £7.7bn to £13.5bn by 2035/6.

Experts are suggesting that it has the potential to “bankrupt” the NHS.

Authored by the York Health Economic Consortium and developed in partnership between Diabetes UK, JDRF and Sanofi Diabetes, the report highlights 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.

The report quantifies the current costs of direct patient care for diabetes (which includes treatment, intervention and complications) and indirect costs of diabetes, such as those related to increased death and illness, work loss and the need for informal care, and also predicts the future costs. According to the report, the total cost associated with diabetes in the UK currently stands at £23.7 billion and is predicted to rise to £39.8 billion by 2035/6.

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."

There are currently around 3.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK and, by 2035/6, this is expected to increase to 6.25 million.

The current cost of direct patient care (which includes treatment, intervention and complications) for those living with diabetes is estimated at £9.8bn: £1bn for Type 1 diabetes and £8.8bn for Type 2 diabetes.

The current indirect costs associated with diabetes, such as those related to increased death and illness, work loss and the need for informal care, are estimated at £13.9 billion.

In addition to the above costs, 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 is estimated at an additional £1.5bn.

By 2035/6, the cost of direct care for patients will rise to £16.9bn: £1.8bn for Type 1 diabetes and £15.1bn for Type 2 diabetes.

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