Charity fears of a ‘hidden’ epidemic

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Around 5,000 people in Bedfordshire have diabetes - and don’t yet know it.

That’s the claim from the charity Diabetes UK, who say about 39,000 people in the county suffer from the disease.

NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which covers Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard, has 12.1 per cent of diabetes sufferers who do not know they have the disease, and NHS Luton CCG has 19.3 per cent.

Nationwide the charity says the number of people diagnosed with diabetes had increased by 163,000 in a year.

The charity wants local NHS organisations to commit to:

>Fully implementing the NHS Health Check (which should be offered to everyone aged 40 to 74) to identify help people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes.

> Ensuring everyone with diabetes is offered education on managing their condition.

>Increasing the proportion of people with diabetes getting the nine annual checks recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.

>Urgently improving hospital care for people with diabetes.

The NHS already spends 10 per cent of its entire budget on diabetes and 80 per cent of this goes on treating complications such as amputation, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke. According to Diabetes UK, the most effective way to stop diabetes spending increasing to unsustainable levels is to ensure people with diabetes get ongoing healthcare.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “The big increase in the number of people with diabetes confirms that we are in the middle of an unfolding public health disaster that demands urgent action and it is frightening to think that one in 17 people you walk past in the street has been diagnosed with the condition.

“While some areas do provide excellent care, this is not happening often enough, From access to education when people are diagnosed right the way through to the care they receive in hospital, there are too many people getting a raw deal and this is fuelling high rates of diabetes related complications and early death.”

“The complications of diabetes are not only devastating for the people involved, but they are also very expensive to treat. With the number of people with diabetes continuing to rise, there is now an urgent need to grasp the nettle and start focusing on the ongoing care and support for self-management that can help prevent complications happening in the first place. Unless we do this, we are likely to see more people having to endure complications and an accompanying rise in diabetes spending that we will simply not be able to afford.”