The Diabetes UK charity calls for government intervention after fears that another 700,000 Britons will be diagnosed with the disease by 2020.The rise will put severe strain on the NHS, which currently spends 10% of its budget treating the consequences of the condition, according to Diabetes UK.
The charity’s estimate of 700,000 extra cases in England, Scotland and Wales by the end of the decade is based on projections compiled by the NHS-funded Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory, which monitors the number of peopled affected.
About 3.7 million people in Britain currently have diabetes, including 850,000 who are believed to have it without knowing.
“I have grave fears about the potential impact of an extra 700,000 people with diabetes, which is almost the combined population of Liverpool and Newcastle. If this projected increase becomes reality it would be a calamity for the healthcare system and a disaster for public health,” said Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK. “But the government and the NHS do not seem to have grasped the scale of the impending crisis and at the moment we seem to be sleepwalking towards it.”
The charity is urging ministers to put more resources into preventing type 2 diabetes, which is closely associated with obesity and accounts for 90% of cases of the disease. It also believes they should fund a major public health campaign to raise awareness of how serious type 2 diabetes can be and what the risk factors are – such as being overweight, having a large waist or a close relative with the condition.
The Department of Health said it wanted to prevent people developing diabetes and was overhauling the NHS to try to improve treatment of the condition.
“We are taking wide-ranging action to tackle diabetes. First through prevention – by encouraging healthier lifestyles and identifying those at risk and supporting them to take the necessary action to prevent diabetes. Secondly, by better management of the condition, both in hospital and in the community,” it said.