Charity’s concern after new figures reveal a big rise in diabetes in East Anglia
16:14 13 February 2014
East Anglia is in the midst of an “unfolding public health disaster” after it emerged that there had been a more than 30pc increase in the number of people with diabetes in the space of a year.
A charity has called on the NHS to do more to help people with the condition after the number of people living with diabetes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire rose from 110,980 in 2011/12 to 147,200 in 2012/13.
Officials from Diabetes UK said the biggest increase in diabetes cases since 2008 could be put down to improvements in diagnosis and a change to the way the data was recorded, but called on more to be done to prevent Type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity.
In Norfolk and Waveney, the number of people with Type 1 and 2 diabetes rose from 48,800 to 63,100 in the space of a year. In Suffolk, diabetes numbers went up from 27,280 in 2011/12 to 36,800 in 2012/13 and in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, the number of people with diabetes increased from 34,900 to 47,300.
New figures, extracted from official NHS data, show that there were 3.2m adults with the condition in 2013, an increase of more than 163,000 compared with 2012, which means that six percent of people are classed as diabetic.
Diabetes UK has called on health chiefs to fully implement free NHS health checks for everyone aged 40 to 74 to help people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and to ensure everyone with diabetes is offered education on how to manage their condition. The charity also wants to see all patients with diabetes getting the nine annual checks recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said 10pc of the NHS budget was spent on diabetes and there was no sign of the increase in diabetes slowing down.
“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”
“We need more focus on preventing Type 2 diabetes, as this is the only way we can bring the rapid rise in diabetes cases under control. But as well as doing more to prevent Type 2, we need to get much better at treating diabetes because the level of priority the NHS gives the condition does not reflect the size of the shadow it is casting over our nation’s health,” she said.
Public health officials in Norfolk said they were doing things to improve people’s health by launching an awareness campaign urging people eligible for a free health check to take one.
Lucy Macleod, interim director of public health at Norfolk County Council, said: “The health of people in Norfolk varies considerably, depending on where they live. Much of the risk can be reduced by early identification of problems and by changing eating, drinking and smoking habits.
“The NHS Health Check programme is a vital part of our work to help Norfolk people - wherever they live in the county - to live longer, healthier lives. The check only takes 30 minutes, but that half an hour has the potential to add years to their lives.”