According to new research, diabetes will cost the NHS nearly £17bn within a generation as so many people are being diagnosed with the disease each year.
The York University study reveals that diabetes is an ‘unfolding public health disaster’ that threatens to bankrupt the NHS unless urgent action is taken to improve diabetic care and reduce the number of diabetics who develop complications such as kidney failure, strokes and amputations.
At present, almost 80% of NHS diabetes spending goes on treating complications that in many cases could easily have been prevented.
It is very concerning that NHS spending on diabetes care is rising to such unsustainable levels. Unless the UK Government does more to implement a clear strategy to combat the problem of diabetes-related complications, this issue is only going to get worse.
The study estimates that, as the number of people with diabetes rises from 3.8 million to 6.25 million, the cost of treating complications - which can also include foot ulcers leading to amputation – will soar from £7.7bn to £13.5bn by 2035.
The number of people in the UK over 17 diagnosed with diabetes rose from 2.2 million in 2006 to almost 3 million last year. A further 850,000 people who haven’t yet been diagnosed are thought to have the disease while another 30,000 under-17s have mainly Type 1 diabetes.
Around 90% of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes - which is closely associated with obesity - while the remaining 10% of sufferers have Type 1 diabetes – the most common type of childhood diabetes. The cost of treating diabetes currently stands at a colossal £9.8bn with £1bn spent on Type 1 and the rest on Type 2.
The associated health problems from diabetes are likely to become increasingly significant due to the increasing incidence of the disease.
At Slater and Gordon Lawyers, our medical negligence experts often deal with clients who have suffered often catastrophic delays in diagnosis because doctors failed to recognise their diabetes.
A particular area of concern is the increased risk of foot and leg amputations from foot ulcers which are poorly managed. New ulcers should be referred urgently to a multidisciplinary diabetic foot team. Our experience is that failures to do so can lead to avoidable amputations. Apart from the real disabilities this causes, it results in enormous extra cost as a result of extra medical care, prosthetic limbs and the need for care at home.
Paul Sankey is a Senior Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitor leading the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Clinical Negligence team in London.
If you or a loved one have suffered an amputation from a delay in managing your foot ulcer due to clinical or medical negligence, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.