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Diabetes: cases and costs predicted to rise

NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, 2012

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By 2035 diabetes care 'could cost the NHS £17billion per year'
“Diabetes could ‘bankrupt’ the NHS in 20 years,” the Daily Mail has today reported, saying that most spending on the condition is actually due to avoidable complications.
A number of other newspapers have also featured similar claims, saying that by 2035 a sixth of NHS funding will be spent on the disease.
These bold claims are based on a UK study that reported that the annual NHS cost involved in the direct treatment of diabetes in the UK will increase from £9.8 billion to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years.
The predicted rise would equate to the NHS spending 17% of its entire budget on the condition, up from about 10% today.
The study also reported that the cost of treating diabetes complications (including kidney failure, nerve damage, stroke, blindness and amputation) is expected to almost double from the current total of £7.7 billion to £13.5 billion by 2035/6.
That is not to say they are unreliable or unrealistic, just that predicting future trends involves a lot of uncertainty and assumptions; many things can change by 2035.
The study does highlight the major challenges many nations are now experiencing in preventing and treating diabetes and the need to address the disease through measures such as improved education, diagnosis and management.
The newspaper headlines suggesting the costs of diabetes treatment will somehow ‘bankrupt’ the NHS are misleading as this is not likely to happen, as the study did not look at the wider spending of the NHS in detail.
However, it is clear that diabetes is a major condition within the UK, and there is a need to examine the financial, personal and societal impacts of the condition to prevent people being needlessly affected by it and its complications.