Diabetes Cases and Costs Soaring in UK; Charity Says NHS at Risk

Diabetes is not just an epidemic in the United States; the nonprofit Diabetes UK warned that the disease is swamping the National Health Service with rising costs because not enough emphasis is placed on prevention.

The British National Health Service (NHS) is groaning from the 60% rise in diabetes cases over the past decade in England and Wales, the nonprofit Diabetes UK warned today.

The NHS serves more than 64 million people, including 3.3 million who now have diabetes. The bulk of the cases are type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and 1.2 million of the diagnoses have come just in the past decade.

Diabetes UK said more must be done to effectively treat those with the disease to keep costs from spiraling upward, and a greater emphasis must be placed on prevention. The United States has recently put a stronger focus on prevention; the CDC and the American Medical Association launched the Prevent Diabetes STAT initiative to identify and treat the estimated 89 million people with prediabetes before their diseases progresses to full-blown T2DM.

Much of the concern of Diabetes UK is that not enough is being done early on in the cycle of diabetes care to stop complications, which can include expensive and disabling conditions like amputations, strokes, and blindness. The British quality care agency, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), sets care standards for diabetes that include 8 “care processes,” but Diabetes UK said in its announcement that many T2DM patients do not receive all of them.

As a results, 80% of British expenditures on the disease go toward managing complications that the nonprofit said could be avoided.

“The NHS must prioritize providing better care, along with improved and more flexible education options, for people with diabetes now,” said Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

If trends continue, Diabetes UK predicts that 5 million people will have the disease by 2025.