• Monica Giudice

What is the cost of diabetes?

Updated: May 18

#diabetes #NHS #UK

Would it surprise you to learn that more than 10% of the entire NHS budget in England and Wales goes on treating diabetes? That’s over £14billion! [1] Or to put it more simply, every minute of every hour of every day the NHS spends £25,000 monitoring and treating those with diabetes.

Do glucose testing kits and insulin injections really cost that much? Well, not on their own; but diabetes carries with it a range of associated conditions including heart disease, kidney and nerve damage, and blindness. Treating these complications poses a significant challenge for the NHS. So much so that it is estimated that those with type 1 diabetes need six times more hospital treatment per year than average, whilst those with type 2 diabetes need twice as much care. [2] And that’s before you factor in both the personal cost, and cost to the country, of time off work which may be required to manage the condition.

So the cost of diabetes to the NHS is significant and is only likely to grow further as the combination of an aging population and lifestyle factors such as obesity kick in. It is estimated that currently in the UK more than seventeen million people have pre-diabetes. That’s a time bomb waiting to happen with huge implications for the NHS and peoples’ ongoing health.

But of course the cost to the NHS is not only cost a disease has. Indeed, it can have such a significant impact on peoples’ lives. Diabetes has also been observed to carry a higher risk of mental problems including depression [3]; something which can have a profound effect not only on the individual but also on their loved ones. Particularly so when ‘diabetes burnout’ occurs, potentially leading people to neglect either testing or ongoing diabetes management.[4]

And yet more could be done to lessen the impact of diabetes. Research [2] revealed that in 2017 and 2018 poor diabetes control led to potentially avoidable hospital treatment, resulting in a cost to the NHS of three billion pounds. And that’s before you add in the potential savings gleaned from the early identification of pre-diabetes conditions. That early identification can enable people to put lifestyle changes in place which could prevent them from going on to develop diabetes. And if just 10% of those with pre-diabetes were caught in time it could save the NHS £4.9billion.

There has also a possible link between Diabetes and another disease that Occuity are working on delivery of a screening device for, Alzheimer’s Disease. A number of research articles suggesting Diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer's, although those connections are not yet fully understood. These studies indicate that people with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, are at higher risk of eventually developing Alzheimer's dementia or other dementias. [5]

In short, regular monitoring can help people to better manage their condition; reducing the burden on the NHS, and more importantly, helping individuals to live healthier lives.

That’s why non-invasive testing such as that being developed by Occuity could make a difference.

When you can monitor your blood glucose levels by measuring subtle changes in the eye, testing becomes less traumatic than with the traditional finger prick test.

Not only can that help to reduce the chance of ‘diabetes burnout,’ non-invasive testing can also boost the chance of identifying those with pre-diabetes markers; helping people to live with a manageable condition rather than suffer from diabetes.

[1] www.diabetes.co.uk

[2] www.diabetestimes.co.uk

[3] www.nature.com/

[4] www.medtronic-diabetes.co.uk

[5] www.mayoclinic.org

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