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Poor diabetes control costing NHS £3bn in avoidable treatment

Published on 19/09/19 at 09:19am
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Findings being presented at this year’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes have shown that the NHS is losing £3 billion every year in potentially avoidable hospital diabetes treatment in England.

The study revealed that on average people with type 1 diabetes require six times more hospital treatment (£3,035 per person per year) than those without the condition (£510). Individuals with type 2 diabetes also required twice as much care, after adjusting for their older age with a figure that stood at £1,291 per annum.

In this study, researchers used data from the NHS Digital Hospital Episode Statistics in England and the National Diabetes Audit (2017-18) to compare the cost of hospital treatment to people with type 1 and 2 diabetes and for those without the condition.

Data from 90% of all hospital care was analysed including elective and emergency admissions, outpatient visits and A&E department attendances for 58 million people of those 2.9 million had type 2 diabetes and 243,000 had type 1 diabetes.

Of all the total hospital costs of £36 billion in the year ending 2018, the NHS spent around £5.5 billion on hospital care for people with diabetes. Of that sum after accounting for age an estimated £3bn was excess expenditure on diabetes – almost 10% of the NHS hospital budget.

Emma Elvin, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “Without knowing more about the reasons for the hospital admissions, we can’t conclude that the excess spending here was definitely linked to diabetes – or that it was absolutely avoidable.

“What we do know, is that more than a million people with diabetes were admitted to hospital in England in 2017 – meaning around 18% of hospital beds were occupied by someone with diabetes – but it is certainly important to stress that only 8% were admitted because of their condition.

“The fact is everyone – regardless of whether they have diabetes or not can experience health conditions or accidents that put them in hospital.”

Lead Author, Dr Adrian Herald, from Salford Royal Hospital argued that “improved management of diabetes by GPs and specialist care teams could improve the health of people with diabetes and substantially reduce the level of hospital care and costs.”

Authors of the study also noted that they did not include indirect costs associated with diabetes such as those related to increased death and illness, work loss and the need for informal care.

Nik Kiran

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