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30
Apr

Diabetes costs predicted to rise


“Diabetes could ‘bankrupt’ the NHS in 20 years,” the Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper said that most spending on the condition is due to avoidable complications. Several other newspapers 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 which reported that the annual NHS cost of 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 £7.7 billion currently to £13.5 billion by 2035/36.

These projections are estimates based on current data. While this doesn't mean they are unreliable or unrealistic, predicting future trends involves a lot of uncertainty and assumptions, and many things can change by 2035. The study does highlight the major challenges many nations face in preventing and treatingdiabetes and the need to address the disease through measures such as improved education, diagnosis and management.

The newspaper headlines that suggest the costs of diabetes treatment will ‘bankrupt’ the NHS are misleading as this is not likely to happen. The study did not look at the wider spending of the NHS in detail. However, it is clear that diabetes is a major condition in 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.

Current situation:

  • Diabetes cost approximately £23.7 billion in the UK in 2010/11, including both direct and indirect costs.
  • The current cost of direct patient care (treatment, intervention and complications) for those living with diabetes is estimated at £9.8 billion (£1 billion for type 1 diabetes and £8.8 billion 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 (£0.9 billion for type 1 diabetes and £13 billion for type 2 diabetes).
  • Deaths from diabetes in 2010/11 resulted in over 325,000 lost working years.
  • An estimated 850,000 people in the UK have diabetes that has not yet been diagnosed, and the cost of this group was estimated at about £1.5 billion.


The possible situation by 2035/36:

  • Diabetes is projected to cost £39.8 billion overall by 2035/36.
  • The cost of direct care for patients is estimated to rise to £16.9 billion (£1.8 billion for type 1 diabetes and£15.1 billion for type 2 diabetes).
  • The indirect costs associated with diabetes will increase to approximately £22.9 billion (2.4 billion for type 1 diabetes and £20.5 billion for type 2 diabetes).


The differences:

  • The annual amount the NHS spends on direct diabetes treatment in the UK will increase from £9.8 billion to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years.
  • The cost of treating diabetes complications (including kidney failure, nerve damage, stroke, blindness and amputation) is expected to almost double, from £7.7 billion currently to £13.5 billion by 2035/36).
  • Diabetes currently accounts for approximately 10% of the total NHS budget, but this is projected to rise toaround 17% by 2035/36.

 

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