The State of Play
The leading diabetes charity Diabetes UK has recently warned that there has been a 60% rise in diabetes cases in the past 10 years, and now the condition threatens the future of the NHS
A large percentage of these new cases are associated with Type 2 Diabetes, the second type that is less associated causally with genetics and more with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle.
Type 2 diabetes has the potential to lead to major complications such as blindness and amputations, and it’s costing the NHS billions every year.
The Scale of the Problem
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, explained:
“Over the past decade, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has increased by over one million people, which is the equivalent of the population of a small country such as Cyprus.
With a record number of people now living with diabetes in the UK, there is no time to waste – the government must act now.”
She added: “Diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10bn a year, and 80% of this is spent on managing avoidable complications.
So there is huge potential to save money and reduce pressure on NHS hospitals and services through providing better care to prevent people with diabetes from developing devastating and costly complications.”
So it’s clear that the rise in diabetes cases is pushing the health service to its limit. The NHS is fighting back however, with the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which is being rolled out across the country.
Let’s hope this scheme can have the desired impact.
Can the Private Sector Help?
One of the reasons that the NHS is creaking at the seams with the rise of diabetes is that the private sector, unfortunately, does not offer significant coverage in this area: virtually all Private Medical Insurance providers currently do not offer cover for Diabetes.
This is because it is considered a Chronic Condition, along with conditions such as asthma and arthritis.
Chronic Conditions are not normally covered by insurers, as typically there is no known cure. However, insurers usually cover the diagnostic tests and may also provide some cover for acute flare-ups of a chronic condition developed whilst on the policy.
PMI insurers do, however, usually cover other serious illnesses such as cancer, which you are, statistically, more likely to be afflicted by.
So what’s the Solution?
Well, many commentators are saying that the NHS can only do so much – most of the slack must be taken up by other parts of the state (perhaps raising the sugar tax to combat obesity) and above all by the public in general.
We need to learn to incorporate healthy eating and lifestyles into our daily lives, whether that means eating less, eating better foods, or moving more.
And you don’t have to run a marathon in the first week – simply taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to work, or cutting back on sugar in your tea; incorporating healthy activities into our everyday lives could work wonders for our waist lines, and our health in general.