Tuesday 1 May 2012

The health time bombs!

I may have blogged this before, but long term conditions take over 70% of the entire health budget. And yet the NHS deals very badly with them.

Just before Easter I had a very agreeable dinner with Barbara Young, the CEO of Diabetes UK.

As she told me, Diabetes will consume £16.9bn of the NHS's budget and threaten to "bankrupt" the service within a generation because so many people are being diagnosed with the disease.

The cost of treating it will soar from £9.8bn as the number of diabetics rises from 3.8 million to 6.25 million by 2035, a new study by Diabetes UK published recently shows.

The research was conducted by five health economists from the York Health Economics Consortium.their findings reveal that the condition is "an unfolding public health disaster" .

The report shows that without urgent action, the already huge sums of money being spent on treating diabetes will rise to unsustainable levels that threaten to bankrupt the NHS, The NHS needs to heed expert advice and improve its care of diabetics, especially to reduce the number who develop complications such as kidney failure, strokes and amputations.

Perhaps the most shocking part of this report is the finding that almost four-fifths of NHS diabetes spending goes on treating complications that in many cases could have been prevented. The failure to do more to prevent these complications is both a tragedy for the people involved and a damning indictment of the failure to implement the clear and recommended solutions. Unless the government and the NHS start to show real leadership on this issue, this unfolding public health disaster will only get worse.

The research also examined the costs of diabetes to the UK as a whole. Once loss of working days, early death and informal care costs are factored in this will rise from £23.7bn to £39.8bn by 2035-36, the co-authors found after studying evidence on trends in diabetes collated by bodies such as the Office of National Statistics, hospitals and the NHS's public health observatory service.

Deaths from diabetes in 2010-11 alone led to the loss of over 325,000 working years, for example, according to the report. The number of people in the UK over 17 diagnosed with diabetes rose from 2.2 million in 2006 to 2.9 million last year.

And who has the answer to tackling long term conditions like diabetes? Not hospitals , that's for sure!

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